Rep. Langevin: Cyber attack on utility plant ‘a real wake-up call’

An alleged cyber attack earlier this month on an Illinois water plant shows the urgency of the cybersecurity threat facing the country, according to House Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus co-founder Jim Langevin (D-R.I.).

The attack, which caused a pump failure at the Springfield facility, has been attributed to foreign hackers and would be one of the first confirmed major cyber attacks on a basic utility provider in the U.S. Langevin appeared on MSNBC Sunday to emphasize the gravity of the threat.

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“I'm greatly concerned about security of our critical infrastructure and its vulnerability to a cyber attack,” Langevin said. “We have a lot of work to do and I don't think that the owners and operators of the electric grid in particular or water and sewer treatment plants are taking this threat seriously enough. But the potential attack that took place in Springfield, Illinois, should be a real wake-up call.”

Langevin told Hillicon last month that he's particularly concerned about potential cyber attacks on the electric grid and water supply system, since either could jeopardize national security and cost lives in the event of a major breach.

During the same interview he expressed support for cybersecurity recommendations from House Republicans, which would add additional safeguards to the existing regulation of water treatment plants and other critical infrastructure. The House is planning to move on cybersecurity legislation in the coming months.