Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity

Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity

Democratic senators are pushing for the Department of Energy "to conduct a thorough analysis of Russian capabilities with respect to cyberattacks on our energy infrastructure" after researchers detailed the malware used to blackout part of Ukraine's power grid in December

A letter dated Thursday to President Trump cosigned by 19 senators asks him to order the Energy Department to make such an inspection, chiding him for not conducting the analysis the first time the group sent him a request to do so on March 19. 

"Your administration failed to respond. In the meantime, the threat Russia poses to our critical infrastructure has become increasingly clear," reads the letter.

On Wednesday, President Trump met with leaders of the energy sector to discuss cybersecurity. 

The malware used in Ukraine was described in reports by Dragos Security and ESET on June 12, alternately nicknamed "CrashOverride" and "Industroyer." The believed Russian malware is customizable to be used against a wide assortment of industrial control systems, meaning it is not only effective against a broad swath of electric grid components, but also a wide assortment of other computerized factories and physical systems.

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The letter notes that the administration proposed funding cuts for the Energy Department's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, whose website says its mission is to "drive electric grid modernization and resiliency in the energy infrastructure."

"Instead of responsibly performing the requested assessment, your administration has proposed slashing funding to the very offices tasked with protecting our grid from Russian cyberattacks," reads the letter.  

"Indeed, the Department of Energy’s Congressional Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2018 proposes to dramatically reduce funding for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability by more than 40%. How can our government protect our national security assets if the administration does not allocate the necessary resources?"