Since May, Hackers Have Reportedly Been Targeting U.S. Nuclear Power Plants & Other Energy Facilities; Schumer Sends Letter to DHS Secretary Kelly & DOE Secretary Perry, Requesting A Status Update On National Efforts To Combat Cybersecurity

Schumer Has Repeatedly Called On Feds To Work Hand-In-Hand With State & Local Governments To Prevent Future Cyber-Attacks, Most Recently At The Bowman Avenue Dam Hack In Rye Brook, NY

Schumer: Our Highest Priority Should Be Protecting Our Critical Infrastructure From Cyber-Attacks 

On the heels of news reports revealing that hackers may have launched cyber-attacks on nuclear power plants and other energy facilities, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer today said Upstate New York’s nuclear power plants like Ginna, Fitzpatrick, Indian Point, Nine Mile, and The Niagara Power Project could be vulnerable to future attacks. Schumer said that we must do everything we can to mitigate threats like these and improve our critical infrastructure defenses.

“The reality is our nation’s infrastructure is far too vulnerable to hackers and we must armor ourselves against this growing threat,” said U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer. “The recently revealed cyber-attacks these last couple months are yet another wakeup call that our cities and sensitive industrial systems – like our power plants across Upstate New York – are way too vulnerable for comfort. Our power plants keep our communities running and any threat to our power supply must be addressed. That is why I proposed a comprehensive infrastructure blueprint that includes a real federal investment to shield and ward off any cyber threats from crippling our critical infrastructure like power plants.”

Therefore, in light of the reports of a possible hack, revealed by The New York Times and Bloomberg News, Schumer said that we must do everything we can to mitigate threats like these and improve the cyber security of our critical infrastructure. Specifically, Schumer said this revelation suggests that the federal government needs to dedicate more federal resources toward ensuring our public infrastructure, including power plants, is tightly secured. This includes making sure any infrastructure bill considered in Congress includes the necessary funding to upgrade our critical infrastructure to ward off the persistent threat of cyber-attacks. In addition, Schumer sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Secretary and the Department of Energy Secretary requesting a status update on their efforts to assess the resilience of and protect our critical infrastructure networks.

During the call, Schumer said it is disconcerting to know that systems controlling the energy that powers our communities could be breached – and relatively easily – by perpetrators. Past cyber-attacks, in New York like the breach in the Town of Brookhaven’s website last month and the Bowman Avenue Dam in 2015, revealed that our critical systems are often connected directly to office computer networks, and are therefore susceptible to being breached. Because the United States has so many industrial-control systems connected to the Internet, Schumer said it is critical Congress invests more funding to guard against cyber-attacks that could impact our towns and cities by causing statewide blackouts or other negative consequences.

Schumer has long advocated for increased cyber security for our nation’s critical infrastructure. In June of this year, he urged the Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to launch an investigation to help Long Island officials uncover facts and recover from a cyber-breach in Town of Brookhaven. Schumer specifically said that “we must do everything we can to prevent threats like these and improve our cybersecurity.” Last year, Schumer urged U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to come up with a comprehensive plan that will help protect Upstate New York 911 call centers from being compromised by hackers. Schumer cited a study that revealed hackers have the ability to overwhelm emergency phone lines, which could result in a total collapse of the 911 system’s ability to answer and respond to emergencies.

A copy of Schumer’s letter appears below:

Dear Secretary Kelly and Secretary Perry:

I write to request an update on the progress you have made in implementing the recent executive order, “Strengthening the Cybersecurity of Federal Networks and Critical Infrastructure.” Specifically, I request an update on your efforts, in coordination with other relevant federal agencies, to support the cybersecurity efforts of the US’s critical infrastructure owners and operators. With recent reports that hackers may have launched cyber-attacks on nuclear power plants and other energy facilities, it is more critical than ever that the federal government do all that it can to ensure that our nation’s critical infrastructure and electric grid are secure.

As you know, recent reports have indicated that hackers may be targeting the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power plants and other energy facilities. These attacks, which have reportedly been going on since May, are deeply concerning, and serve as reminder of the persistent threat of cyber-attacks, and the possible damage that they could do to our critical infrastructure. While fortunately it appears that the reported hack on a nuclear plant did not affect the plant’s operations, a future cyber-attack on an energy facility could result in largescale blackouts or other more severe negative consequences. Therefore, it is crucial that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Department of Energy (DOE), and all other federal agencies expedite their work to support the cybersecurity efforts of the nation’s critical infrastructure owners and operators, including the identification of federal resources and capabilities best suited to protect critical infrastructure where a cyber-attack could have catastrophic effects, and in assessing the resilience of the electric grid. I stand ready to work with my colleagues in Congress to take the steps necessary to protect our electric grid and other critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this critical issue. I look forward to continuing to work with you to enhance the security of our critical infrastructure against future cyber-attacks.


Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator


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