(CNN)The Department of Homeland Security on Thursday will mandate that critical pipeline operators comply with several cybersecurity measures, including reporting cybersecurity incidents to the department within 12 hours, according to DHS officials.
In the wake of the debilitating ransomware attack earlier this month on Colonial Pipeline, which operates a major fuel pipeline, department officials rushed to enact measures that they believe will better secure the industry as a whole and help identify and prevent cyberattacks.
Under a forthcoming Transportation Security Administration security directive, these pipeline companies will be required to report both confirmed and potential incidents to DHS’ cybersecurity branch.
Pipeline owners and operators will also be required to designate a “24/7, always available” cybersecurity coordinator who can respond to incidents and coordinate with TSA and the department’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, a DHS official said during a news briefing.
Within 30 days, these companies must also complete and assess how their practices line up with TSA’s long-standing pipeline guidance, identify any gaps and propose plans to remedy those gaps.
On Tuesday, CNN reported plans to require pipeline companies to report cyberattacks to the federal government, a shift from the current system of voluntary reporting, according to a source familiar with the plans.
TSA is responsible for transportation security, including hazardous material and pipeline security, and has guidelines in place for the industry. However, this will be the first time that the critical pipeline sector has been mandated to report cybersecurity incidents.
The directive will apply to around 100 companies considered to have the most critical pipelines in the United States, a DHS official said. The companies are aware of their critical status and are familiar with the existing pipeline security guidelines, according to the official.
In response to the cyberattack, Colonial Pipeline halted operations, leading to a run on gasoline and panic buying. After the incident, Biden administration officials privately voiced frustration with what they saw as Colonial Pipeline’s weak security protocols and a lack of preparation, CNN previously reported.
The incident highlighted that ransomware, which is primarily a criminal, profit-driven enterprise, “can rise to the level of posing a national security r
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