[ISN] Lawmakers Seek to Tighten Cyber Regulation on Power Grids

From: InfoSec News <alerts_at_private>
Date: Fri, 1 May 2009 04:40:10 -0500 (CDT)

By Brian Krebs
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
April 29, 2009

Key lawmakers in the House and Senate are seeking to grant federal 
regulators new powers to protect the U.S. power grid in the face of an 
imminent or actual cyber attack on the nation's electric infrastructure.

The proposal would grant the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) 
authority to require companies that own and operate critical portions of 
the power grid to take emergency actions to mitigate a specific cyber 
threat against power generation equipment or the communications networks 
that support those systems. With the exception of publicly owned 
utilities, industry compliance with warnings or advisories issued by 
FERC currently is voluntary.

"Any failure of our electric grid, whether intentional or unintentional, 
would have a significant and potentially devastating impact on our 
nation," said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson 
(D-Miss.), who is expected to introduce the measure Thursday along with 
the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman 
Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). "We must ensure that the proper protections, 
resources and regulatory authorities are in place to address any threat 
aimed at our power system."

The vulnerability of the nation's electrical grid to computer attack has 
grown as power companies have transferred control of their electrical 
generation and distribution equipment from private, internal networks to 
supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, systems that can be 
accessed through the Internet or by phone lines, according to 
consultants and government reports. That technology has led to greater 
efficiency because it allows workers to operate equipment remotely.


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Received on Fri May 01 2009 - 02:40:10 PDT

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