Cybersecurity

TSA issues second security directive to secure pipelines against cyberattacks

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The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) on Tuesday issued a second security directive meant to strengthen critical pipelines against cyberattacks in the wake of the crippling ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline earlier this year. 

Under the directive, owners and operators of critical pipelines transporting gasoline or other hazardous liquids are required to take specific security measures to protect against ransomware attacks, develop recovery plans in the event of an attack and review their existing cybersecurity plans.

The first security directive was issued by TSA, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in May, and required pipeline companies to report cybersecurity incidents within 12 hours to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

It also required owners and operators of critical pipelines to carry out assessments of existing cybersecurity practices to identify potential gaps and report their findings to TSA and CISA within 30 days.

Both directives are being rolled out in the wake of the attack on Colonial Pipeline, the provider of 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supply. The attack caused gas shortages in several states for a week, and was later linked by the FBI to Russian-based cyber criminal group DarkSide.

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who has made cybersecurity a key priority for the agency since taking office, stressed in a statement Tuesday the importance of securing critical organizations such as pipelines against malicious hackers. 

“The lives and livelihoods of the American people depend on our collective ability to protect our Nation’s critical infrastructure from evolving threats,” Mayorkas said. “Through this Security Directive, DHS can better ensure the pipeline sector takes the steps necessary to safeguard their operations from rising cyber threats, and better protect our national and economic security.”

“Public-private partnerships are critical to the security of every community across our country and DHS will continue working closely with our private sector partners to support their operations and increase their cybersecurity resilience,” he added. 

Concerns around cybersecurity have grown exponentially in recent months, following a spike in ransomware attacks that have hit a multitude of hospitals, along with major meat producer JBS USA and software group Kaseya, an attack which may have impacted up to 1,500 companies. 

President Biden signed an executive order earlier this year aimed at shoring up the cybersecurity of the federal government and contractors, and it has become a key area of contention between the U.S. and nations including Russia and China.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Colonial Pipeline DHS Joe Biden pipeline security Russia TSA

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