U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today stressed the need for stronger and continued cooperation among government agencies and industry to ensure the security of the American energy sector, which is under consistent cyberattack from nation-state actors like China, Russia, and others.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today conducted an oversight hearing examining the status of government and industry initiatives to strengthen U.S. energy cybersecurity.  Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and industry testified.

“Our nation’s critical infrastructure is under constant attack from nation-state actors.  Couple this with the aging and fragile nature of systems running critical energy delivery systems, and you have a potential recipe for disaster,” Hyde-Smith said.  “This hearing was very useful in fortifying the message that DOE, the intelligence community, and the private sector must collaborate effectively to defend against these evolving attacks.”

The complexity of coordinating cyber-defense efforts is increasingly difficult with the nation’s power infrastructure, grid operators, and utilities primarily responsible for protecting their systems from risk.  DOE coordinates federal involvement with the private sector on cyber and physical threat mitigation actions to protect systems, which are increasingly vulnerable as more processes are becoming digitized.

“A lot of time and resources are dedicated to implementing the best practices and standards to secure these assets.  However, best practices and standards don’t often stop increasingly sophisticated bad actors for long,” Hyde-Smith said.  “We must stay on top of this to avoid serious disruptions and damage to our nation.”

President Trump recently issued an Executive Order on Securing the United States Bulk Power System by establishing government-wide national security criteria for procuring bulk power assets, and prohibiting the acquisition and installation of bulk power system electric equipment from foreign adversaries.

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Release from Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith.