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US Government Whips Pipeline Owners into Shape with New Cybersecurity Directive


May 28, 2021

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US Government Whips Pipeline Owners into Shape with New Cybersecurity Directive

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) this week announced a directive that seeks to thwart cyber-attacks aimed at the oil & gas industry.

Two weeks after the resounding ransomware attack on the largest gasoline pipeline in the US, the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration has announced a security directive to enable the Department to “better identify, protect against, and respond to threats to critical companies in the pipeline sector,” the DHS said in a press release issued Thursday.

As a first order of business, the directive mandates that critical pipeline owners and operators report cybersecurity incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). This applies both to confirmed incidents and ”potential” incidents, the DHS stresses.

Secondly, critical pipeline operators must now designate a Cybersecurity Coordinator whose mission is to be available 24/7 for all cybersecurity matters– likely the equivalent of a Data Protection Officer (DPO) under GDPR guidelines in Europe.

Third, pipelines must “review their current practices as well as to identify any gaps and related remediation measures to address cyber-related risks and report the results to TSA and CISA within 30 days,” meaning more work for their existing IT teams and security chiefs.

The DHS also instructs pipeline operators, albeit indirectly, to buckle up as more proceedings will ensue in the future:

“TSA is also considering follow-on mandatory measures that will further support the pipeline industry in enhancing its cybersecurity and that strengthen the public-private partnership so critical to the cybersecurity of our homeland,” according to the announcement.

“The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving and we must adapt to address new and emerging threats,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “The recent ransomware attack on a major petroleum pipeline demonstrates that the cybersecurity of pipeline systems is critical to our homeland security. DHS will continue to work closely with our private sector partners to support their operations and increase the resilience of our nation’s critical infrastructure.”

Lastly, the DHS instructs pipeline owners to get up to speed with CISA’s cybersecurity resources, including the agency’s granular ransomware guidance.




Filip has 15 years of experience in technology journalism. In recent years, he has turned his focus to cybersecurity in his role as Information Security Analyst at Bitdefender.

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