Markey asks utilities, agencies about Russian cyberattacks

Source: Sam Mintz, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Sen. Ed Markey asked 10 power companies and several federal agencies for information yesterday about Russian cyberattacks on utilities.

The Massachusetts Democrat cited media reports that Russian hackers penetrated the U.S. electric grid last year in a large, coordinated and ongoing campaign that reached utility company control rooms.

“Unless we act now, the United States will continue to remain vulnerable to the 21st century cyberarmies looking to wage war by knocking out America’s electricity grid,” Markey said in a statement.

“We need answers and assurances from stakeholders who operate and oversee the grid that they are doing everything possible to secure our nation’s electrical system against devastating damage from physical or cyber-terrorist attacks,” he said.

Markey’s letter to the utilities asks whether they were a victim of recent cyberattacks, what steps they are taking to identify vulnerabilities and how they work with various government entities.

He also asked for staff briefings from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and North American Electric Reliability Corp., which each have roles in trying to protect the grid from attacks.

Russian hacking efforts have alarmed both election and energy watchers (Energywire, July 31).