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Monday, April 16, 2018

Cyberattacks Expose Pipeline Vulnerabilities, May Lead to Calls for More Regulation

From Bloomberg Quint:
A cyberattack that U.S. natural gas pipeline owners weren’t required to report has lawmakers taking a closer look at how the industry is handling such threats, raising the prospect of tighter regulation.

In website notices to customers this week, at least seven pipeline operators from Energy Transfer Partners LP to TransCanada Corp. said their third-party electronic communications systems were shut down, with five confirming the service disruptions were caused by hacking. But the companies didn’t have to alert the U.S. Transportation Security Administration, the agency that oversees the nation’s more than 2.6 million miles of oil and gas conduits in addition to providing security at airports.

Though the cyberattack didn’t disrupt the supply of gas to U.S. homes and businesses, it underscores that energy companies from power providers to pipeline operators and oil drillers are increasingly vulnerable to electronic sabotage. It also showed how even a minor attack can have ripple effects, forcing utilities to warn of billing delays and making it more difficult for analysts and traders to predict a key government report on gas stockpiles.

“These attacks are a wake-up call that addressing our aging energy infrastructure needs to be a priority,” Congressman Robert Latta, a Republican from Ohio who serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, said in an emailed statement on April 5. “Bad actors are looking at any way to weaken the American energy sector.”
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