DHS Sets New Cybersecurity Rules For US Pipeline Operators

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced new requirements for U.S. pipeline operators to bolster cybersecurity, reports Associated Press. This follows the ransomware attack that disrupted gas delivery across the East Coast this May.

DHS said in a statement that it would require operators of federally designated critical pipelines to implement “specific mitigation measures” to prevent ransomware attacks and other cyber intrusions.

Operators must also implement contingency plans and conduct what the department calls a “cybersecurity architecture design review.”

This security directive comes after the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), a component of DHS, issued its first pipeline directive in a rush to better secure the industry after the ransomed ware attack on Colonial Pipeline exposed vulnerabilities in the pipeline sector, reports CNN.

This first directive largely focused on reporting requirements, such as designating a “24/7, always available” cybersecurity coordinator who can respond to incidents and coordinate with TSA and the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

U.S. agencies on Tuesday also disclosed that the Chinese government-linked intruders targeted 23 natural gas pipeline operators from 2011 to 2013 and that 13 of those attacks were confirmed intrusions.

The Colonial attack led to the shutdown of a system delivering about 45 percent of the gasoline consumed along the East Coast, sparking gas shortages and long lines in several states.

The company paid an estimated $4.4 million ransom, most of which was recovered by the Justice Department.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement that’s, “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,” says CNN.

Gabriela Felitto is a TCR Justice Reporting intern.

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