Hundreds of contractors and subcontractors with connections to U.S. electric utilities and government agencies have been hacked, according to a recent report by the Wall Street Journal. The U.S. government has linked the hackers to a Russian state-sponsored group, sometimes called Dragonfly or Energetic Bear. The U.S. government alerted the public that the hacking campaign started in March 2016, if not earlier, although many of its victims were unaware of the incident until notified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Homeland Security, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Earlier this month, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) and the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) co-chaired a meeting with industry leaders from the Oil and Natural Gas Subsector Coordinating Council (“ONG SCC”) in Washington, D.C. to address cybersecurity threats to pipelines. Together, DOE and DHS launched the Pipeline Cybersecurity Initiative, which will harness DHS’s cybersecurity resources, DOE’s energy sector expertise, and the Transportation Security Administration’s (“TSA”) assessment of pipeline security to provide intelligence to natural gas companies and support ONG SCC’s efforts. “This meeting and the ones to follow will build upon the expanded cybersecurity measures in the recently updated Pipeline Security Guidelines and our collaboration with [DHS’s] National Risk Management Center to minimize the consequences of an attack or disruption,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. The Pipeline Cybersecurity Initiative has been warmly received and complements other efforts in the energy industry, such as to the U.S. power grid, to enhance cybersecurity to protect critical infrastructure.
On May 30, 2018, the federal government released a report that identifies gaps in assets and capabilities required to manage the consequences of a cyber attack on the U.S. electric grid. The assessment is a result of the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) combined efforts to assess the potential scope and duration of a prolonged power outage associated with a significant cyber incident and the United States’ readiness to manage the consequences of such an incident. Continue Reading DOE and DHS Assess U.S. Readiness to Manage Potential Cyber Attacks
On May 14, 2018, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy Reliability released its Multiyear Plan for Energy Sector Cybersecurity (the “Plan”). The Plan is significantly guided by DOE’s 2006 Roadmap to Secure Control Systems in the Energy Sector and 2011 Roadmap to Achieve Energy Delivery Systems Cybersecurity. Taken together with DOE’s recent announcement creating the new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (“CESER”), DOE is clearly asserting its position as the energy sector’s Congressionally-recognized sector-specific agency (“SSA”) on cybersecurity. Continue Reading Department of Energy Announces New Efforts in Energy Sector Cybersecurity
As reported in the Hunton Nickel Report:
Recent press reports indicate that a cyber attack disabled the third-party platform used by oil and gas pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners to exchange documents with other customers. Effects from the attack were largely confined because no other systems were impacted, including, most notably, industrial controls for critical infrastructure. However, the attack comes on the heels of an FBI and Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) alert warning of Russian attempts to use tactics including spearphishing, watering hole attacks, and credential gathering to target industrial control systems throughout critical infrastructure, as well as an indictment against Iranian nationals who used similar tactics to attack private, education, and government institutions, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). These incidents raise questions about cybersecurity across the U.S. pipeline network. Continue Reading Attacks Targeting Oil and Gas Sector Renew Questions About Cybersecurity
On March 15, 2018, the Trump Administration took the unprecedented step of publicly blaming the Russian government for carrying out cyber attacks on American energy infrastructure. According to a joint Technical Alert issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, beginning at least as early as March 2016, Russian government cyber actors carried out a “multi-stage intrusion campaign” that sought to penetrate U.S. government entities and a wide range of U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including “organizations in the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors.” Continue Reading U.S. Blames Russia for Cyber Attacks on Energy Infrastructure
On December 21, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) aimed at expanding mandatory reporting obligations in relation to cybersecurity incidents. In particular, FERC’s NOPR would direct the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to develop modifications to certain Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) Reliability Standards so that those standards require mandatory reporting of cybersecurity incidents that compromise or attempt to compromise a responsible entity’s Electronic Security Perimeter (“ESP”) or associated Electronic Access Control or Monitoring Systems. Continue Reading FERC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Aimed at Expanding Data Breach Reporting Obligations
On January 18, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) issued an updated National Cyber Incident Response Plan (the “Plan”) as directed by Obama’s Presidential Policy Directive 41, issued this past summer, and the National Cybersecurity Protection Act of 2014. Continue Reading DHS Issues Updated National Cyber Incident Response Plan
On July 26, 2016, the White House unveiled Presidential Policy Directive PPD-41 (“PPD-41”), Subject: United States Cyber Incident Coordination, which sets forth principles for federal responses to cyber incidents approved by the National Security Council (“NCS”). Coming on the heels of several high-profile federal breaches, including the Office of Personnel Management’s loss of security clearance information and the hack of over 700,000 IRS accounts, PPD-41 is a component of President Obama’s Cybersecurity National Action Plan. PPD-41 first focuses on incident response to cyber attacks on government assets, but also outlines federal incident responses to cyber attacks on certain critical infrastructure within the private sector. Continue Reading White House Releases New Policy on Federal Cyber Incident Response
On June 15, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) and U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) jointly issued final guidance on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015 (“CISA”). Enacted in December 2015, CISA includes a variety of measures designed to strengthen private and public sector cybersecurity. In particular, CISA provides protections from civil liability, regulatory action and disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) and other open government laws for “cyber threat indicators” (“CTI”) and “defensive measures” (“DM”) that are shared: (1) among businesses or (2) between businesses and the government through a DHS web portal. Congress passed CISA in order to increase the sharing of cybersecurity information among businesses and between businesses and the government, and to improve the quality and quantity of timely, actionable cybersecurity intelligence in the hands of the private sector and government information security professionals. Continue Reading DHS and DOJ Issue Final Guidance on the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act of 2015