Report: Utilities slacking on cyber defenses

Democrats have argued that legislation should require critical infrastructure networks, such as the electric grid, to meet mandatory standards.

President Obama issued an executive order instructing the National Institute of Standards and Technology to create an incentive-based regime for critical infrastructure cybersecurity, but some Democrats — including Waxman — say it doesn't go far enough.

Republicans say they're worried standards would add regulatory burdens. They prefer an approach that would provide legal cover for utilities that share information with federal officials about potentially malicious activity on their networks.

Waxman, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the survey showed that approach wouldn't work.

“The failure of utilities to heed the advice of their own industry-controlled reliability organization raises serious questions about whether the grid will be adequately protected by a voluntary approach to cybersecurity,” he said at a recent House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing.

The Hill's Amrita Khalid has more on Hillicon Valley here.