Energy wants $ 201 million to boost cybersecurity following attacks – .

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Energy wants $ 201 million to boost cybersecurity following attacks – .


US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm speaks about the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, May 11, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy is asking Congress for $ 201 million in its FY2022 budget request to tackle digital vulnerabilities after a steady rise in massive cyber attacks.
The request of $ 201 million, up from $ 157 million in 2021, will help bolster the federal agency’s cybersecurity efforts and close “gaps” in the supply chain and technology infrastructure.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the ministry also needs funds to upgrade software, hire more cybersecurity professionals and develop new policies and standards. cybersecurity.

“As we have seen, the Colonial Pipeline incident made it clear that the fact that we do not have cyber standards on pipelines like we do on the electricity sector suggests a major hole Granholm said, referring to a massive ransomware attack on the larger pipeline.

“I will say that it is clear that there are gaps, not so much in our ability to react internally but in our ability to see what is happening in the private sector,” she said, adding that the Biden administration was examining ways in which the private sector could better collaborate with the government in the wake of cyber attacks.

“What is not acceptable is the status quo,” said Granholm, adding that one option could be “to allow the government to have some visibility on the system since the public relies on its system” .

The Biden administration is asking Congress for $ 9.8 billion for federal civilian cybersecurity in 2022, almost a 15% increase from 2021. The Pentagon is asking for $ 10.4 billion in 2022 for its budget request for cybersecurity.

The increased investment in cybersecurity follows a steady pace of ransomware attacks that have directly hit Americans and hampered logistics and services in the United States.

In April, Washington officially held Russia’s foreign intelligence service responsible for the SolarWinds cyberattack. Microsoft President Brad Smith described the cyberattack as “the largest and most sophisticated attack the world has ever seen.” Microsoft’s systems have also been infected with malware.

The Russian government denies all allegations that it is behind the SolarWinds hack.

Last month, a hacking group known as DarkSide with suspected links to Russian criminals launched a ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, forcing the US company to shut down approximately 5,500 miles of pipeline. This has resulted in an interruption of nearly half of the east coast’s fuel supply and caused gasoline shortages in the southeast and airline disruptions.
Speaking after the DarkSide attack, Biden told reporters, “So far there is no evidence from our intelligence services that Russia is involved although there is evidence that the ransomware of the actor is in Russia, they have a certain responsibility to deal with it. He added that he would discuss the situation with Russian President Vladimir Putin during their first face-to-face meeting in Geneva.

Ransomware attacks involve malware that encrypts files on a device or network, rendering the system unusable. The criminals behind these types of cyber attacks usually demand a ransom in exchange for disclosing data.

Earlier this month, the CEO of Colonial Pipeline told a Senate committee that the company had paid the $ 5 million ransom to cybercriminals.

“I made the decision that Colonial Pipeline would pay the ransom to have all the tools at our disposal to quickly get the pipeline back to working order,” Joseph Blount Jr. told members of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Human Rights. government affairs on June 8. “It was one of the hardest decisions I have had to make in my life,” he said.

The day before Blount’s testimony, US law enforcement announced they were able to recover $ 2.3 million in bitcoins from the hacker group.

The FBI has previously warned victims of ransomware attacks that paying a ransom could encourage further malicious activity.

Less than a month after the cyberattack on Colonial Pipeline, Brazilian company JBS, the world’s largest meat packer, announced that it had been the victim of a ransomware attack. The breach has disrupted meat production in North America and Australia, raising concerns about rising meat prices.

The company ultimately paid a $ 11 million ransom to another Russian-based cybercrime group, but not before briefly shutting down all of its operations in the United States.

Biden told reporters after his first meeting with Putin since his rise to the White House that he raised the issue of cyber attacks with his Russian counterpart.

“Certain critical infrastructure should be off limits to attacks, period, by cyber or any other means,” Biden said at a press conference in Geneva. “I gave them a list of 16 specific entities defined as critical infrastructure under US policy, from the energy sector to water supply systems,” he added.

Biden’s identification of critical infrastructure as prohibited suggests that a government response could be taken if state or non-state actors attacked these areas.

Putin has repeatedly denied having knowledge of or being involved in the attacks.

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