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Thursday, September 28th, 2023

Bipartisan senators introduce legislation to secure critical infrastructure networks against cyberattacks

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U.S. Sens. Gary Peters (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced legislation Thursday designed to safeguard America’s critical infrastructure networks against cybersecurity threats.

The bill would require the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to ensure they can identify and mitigate threats to Industrial Control Systems – the operational technology involved in operating critical infrastructure networks like pipelines and water and electric utilities.

“As foreign adversaries and the criminal organizations they harbor continue to target our critical infrastructure systems, it is essential we work to protect these networks from attacks that can lead to significant harm to the American people,” Peters, chair of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said. “This bipartisan, commonsense bill will help shore up the defenses of critical infrastructure networks and address vulnerabilities in products and technologies that help operate them.”

In light of recent cyberattacks on critical infrastructure networks, this legislation would direct CISA to lead federal efforts to better identify and respond to any threats against Industrial Control Systems and the critical infrastructure networks they help operate. The legislation also requires CISA to share information on cyber threats with Industrial Control Systems users and to provide Congress with a briefing on its ability to protect these critical systems. The legislation would also require the Government Accountability Office to report on the legislation’s implementation as well as CISA’s capabilities to carry out the legislation’s requirements.

Companion legislation introduced in the House by U.S. Rep. John Katko, ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, has already passed in that body.

“As made clear by the recent attacks on Colonial Pipeline and SolarWinds, we need to do more to protect American critical infrastructure and industries from cyber-attacks,” Rubio, Vice Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Bad actors, often based in China or Russia, will stop at nothing to take advantage of any vulnerability in U.S. infrastructure. We need to strengthen our cyber defenses to more quickly detect and prevent these targeted attacks on our most critical industries.”