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Saturday, February 27th, 2021

Federal agencies take action against possible electromagnetic attacks

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on Monday showing the strengths and weaknesses various federal agencies have against a possible electromagnetic attack to the electrical grid.

The report sought to assess the progress agencies have made since the 2008 Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse Attack (EMP Commission).

Since 2008, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have taken actions such as establishing industry standards and federal guidelines, while also completing EMP-related research reports.

The GAO found that the DHS developed EMP protection guidelines to help federal agencies and industry to identify options for safeguarding critical communication equipment and control systems from an EMP attack, which aligns with the 2008 commission’s recommendations.

While some progress has been made, the report found some opportunities for improvement, including DHS not identifying internal responsibilities for addressing electromagnetic risks, which has led to limited awareness of related activities within the department and reduced opportunity for coordination with external partners.

The report also emphasized a need for DHS and DOE stakeholders to collaborate further when new changes are being implemented.