U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, on Tuesday held a hearing to examine current efforts to protect domestic energy delivery systems from cybersecurity threats and evaluated efforts to secure the nation’s natural gas pipeline system.
In addition to highlighting the work that must be done to stay ahead of emerging threats, the hearing fostered a discussion about how the energy industry has worked with its federal partners to modify their digital networks, engage in research and advanced technologies, develop new products, and create organizations for the sharing of information and best practices.
In her opening statement, Murkowski, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, spoke about the importance of addressing threats to domestic energy delivery systems.
“While this committee has spent considerable time over the years examining the threats posed to the nation’s grid infrastructure, today we will also assess efforts to secure natural gas pipelines,” Murkowski said. “Given the interdependency of natural gas and electricity, it is imperative that these energy delivery systems are adequately protected.”
In their testimony, several witnesses raised the point that properly responding to ongoing cyber threats and attacks will be increasingly dependent upon robust public-private partnerships.
“DOE plays a critical role in supporting industry functions in several ways: providing partnership mechanisms that support collaboration and trust; leveraging government capabilities to gather intelligence on threats and vulnerabilities, and sharing actionable intelligence with energy owners and operators…,” said Patricia Hoffman, acting secretary of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability at the Department of Energy.
“Strong public-private partnerships are key to successful information sharing within the electricity sector and across sectors,” said Gerry W. Cauley, president and CEO for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation.
“The single most important aspect of cybersecurity policy remains effective government-private sector partnership,” said former Congressman Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of the American Gas Association.
The Internet-of-Things is increasingly involved in all phases of energy generation and delivery. While convenience and efficiency gains have resulted from digital technology innovation, it also creates even more avenues for cyber intrusion and exposes new vulnerabilities for energy supply.