Bipartisan Senate group asks DOT, DHS for information on cybersecurity

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U.S. Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of both the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, joined U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) in asking the Departments of Transportation and Homeland Security for information on cyberthreats.

The senators led a bipartisan group of 10 senators in sending a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas in requesting information on how the two departments will meet their responsibilities to detect, prevent and respond to cyberattacks, as outlined in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021.

“Cyberattacks on American transportation infrastructure are escalating in frequency and severity, as evidenced by the ransomware attack earlier this year on Colonial Pipeline, one of the nation’s largest pipelines, which led to the shutdown of a network that carries nearly half the gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel for the East Coast,” the senators wrote. “At the same time, many state and local transit agencies are not fully equipped to implement more than basic cybersecurity protections. In fact, a study by the Mineta Transportation Institute found that only 60 percent of transit agencies had a cybersecurity plan in place last year. As such, federal efforts to ensure that our nation is properly prepared to address cybersecurity threats to the transportation system require a delicate balance to provide critical assistance to entities that need new or additional cybersecurity support while recognizing effective practices that some entities already have in place.”

The group, which also consisted of Sens. Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Todd Young (R-IN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dan Sullivan (R-AR), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and James Lankford (R-OK), asked the two agencies to provide them with information on how they would meet the six responsibilities set out by the NDAA: supporting risk sector management; assessing sector risk; coordinating between sectors; facilitating information sharing between and within sectors; supporting incident management; and contributing to emergency preparedness.

The senators also asked the two departments to identify with whom they would collaborate to avoid gaps and redundancies in federal risk management.