Cyber Alert: White House Urges Energy Sector to Strengthen Digital Defenses in Response to Russia-Ukraine Conflict
On March 21, 2022, Biden urged all U.S. companies operating critical infrastructure, including the energy industry, to strengthen their digital defenses in response to new intelligence that Russia is exploring options for potential cyber attacks.
"I have previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States, including as a response to the unprecedented economic costs we’ve imposed on Russia alongside our allies and partners. It’s part of Russia’s playbook," - President Joe Biden, The White House Briefing Room Statement.
In recent weeks, White House officials have hosted classified briefings with hundreds of companies to prepare for the Russian threat. Top cybersecurity analysts have noted that while they continue to provide practical and focused advice, there is still much more that must be done before we have confidence that U.S. digital doors are secure.
White House Red Alert - Key Takeaways
- There is evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks.
- The White House Administration is continuing its work to strengthen our national cyber defenses, mandating extensive cybersecurity measures for the Federal Government and critical infrastructure sectors.
- The majority of America’s critical infrastructure is owned and operated by the private sector and critical infrastructure owners and operators must accelerate efforts to lock their digital doors.
- The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been rapidly sharing information and mitigation guidance through “Shields Up” to help protect organizations’ systems and networks.
- Biden is urging private sector partners to harden their cyber defenses immediately by implementing the best practices that have been developed over the last year.
The Severe Cyber Threat Against Power and Energy
For the past 15 years, Russia’s threat actors have been impacting Ukraine's ability to keep its population warm and safe by strategically shutting off gas supplies during the winter. To many people, this is the difference between life and death. Threat actors like Sandworm were attributed to Russia for the December 23rd BlackEnergy 3 power outage in Ukraine.
"It is not surprising at all that Russia would activate its most effective war-fighting tools online. As a people, our most important needs must be met to have peace of mind; before all else, these are physiological needs. Power and energy are in large part what we depend on to meet those needs, especially during the winter when power and natural gas are in such high demand to keep us safe, warm and at peace in our homes." – Dr. Dennis Hackney, Solutions Development Director, Industrial Cybersecurity, ABS Group
America is aware that these cyber criminals present the potential of a severe threat against power and energy resources because they have the capabilities and have successfully disrupted them before. We know that these past operations have been aligned with Russia's agendas. What we don't know is what this will do to the U.S. public's peace of mind.
Cyber attacks often come with the issue of attribution—years may pass before we know if any critical infrastructure has been hacked. To better protect your organization against these types of cyber threats, we would advise taking action sooner rather than later so you can be prepared to protect, defend, respond and recover from your next cyber-incident.
About ABS Group
ABS Group of Companies, Inc. (www.abs-group.com), through its operating subsidiaries, provides technical advisory and certification services to support the safety and reliability of high-performance assets and operations in the oil, gas and chemical, power generation, marine, offshore and government sectors, among others. Headquartered in Houston, Texas, ABS Group operates with more than 1,000 professionals globally. ABS Group is a subsidiary of ABS (www.eagle.org), a leading marine and offshore classification society.