The Biden administration kicked off a 100-day effort on Tuesday to beef up cybersecurity in the nation’s power grid, calling for industry leaders to install technologies that could thwart attacks on the electricity supply.
The move follows a high-profile, if unsuccessful, cyberattack in Florida that sought to compromise a water treatment plant, which highlighted some of the cybersecurity vulnerabilities in America’s critical infrastructure.
The Energy Department announced the push on Tuesday, saying the initiative would outline actionable steps for utility owners and operators that could help them detect and defend against cyberattacks. Experts have said that so-called industrial control systems should rarely if ever be connected to the public internet and that any remote access to those systems should prevent commands from being executed.
Cybersecurity has been a major focus of the administration’s first 100 days, following two alarming cybersecurity incidents: The SolarWinds intrusion campaign by alleged Russian hackers that compromised nine US agencies and dozens of private organizations, and the Microsoft Exchange server vulnerabilities that exposed tens of thousands of systems worldwide.
Tuesday’s announcement also calls for input from the private sector on future recommendations to further secure the country’s infrastructure from cyberattack.
“The United States faces a well-documented and increasing cyber threat from malicious actors seeking to disrupt the electricity Americans rely on to power our homes and businesses,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm in a release. “It’s up to both government and industry to prevent possible harms — that’s why we’re working together to take these decisive measures so Americans can rely on a resilient, secure, and clean energy system.”