New Bill Adds Industrial Control Systems to Homeland Security’s Oversight

While already happening in practice, the new legislation would officially make it one of the agency’s priorities.

An article review.

In an acknowledgment of what is recognized as a growing threat, legislation introduced recently in the House of Representatives would officially add industrial control systems to the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity priorities.

The bill, titled “DHS Industrial Control Systems Capabilities Enhancement Act of 2018,” is largely symbolic in that there is no companion bill in the US Senate–so at the moment its future is unclear. What is clear, however, is that industrial control systems are starting to be acknowledged as a pressing issue that requires attention. In fact, this bill only seeks to make official work that the DHS is already undertaking to secure control systems for the nation’s vital infrastructure.

The threat isn’t speculative either: sporadic attempts to infiltrate and probe various power control equipment have been identified in the past, most notably in 2016 as part of the Russian hacking scandal–focusing on smaller commercial operations that were believed to be more likely to have lax security in place. Because of the nature of the power grid, an attack mounted from one of these smaller facilities could still cascade through the system causing significant disruptions.

While this legislation does not give DHS additional power, and does not create anything new (the department was already at work on this issue), it is important to note how seriously these kinds of attacks are now being taken…and that being one of “the little guys” might not be a reason to breathe easier when it comes to security.

Original article by Morgan Chalfant writing for The Hill.



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