Adversaries to the US are capable of shutting down the nation’s electrical grid, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm admitted Sunday, saying that such cybersecurity attacks are “happening all the time.”
Granholm warned of the system’s vulnerabilities — amid an uptick of ransomware sieges — on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“Yeah, they do,” Granholm told host Jake Tapper when asked if foreign actors have the ability to make the power grid go dark.
“There are very malign actors who are trying, even as we speak,” she explained. “There are thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector and the private sector generally.”
Granholm added, “It’s happening all the time. This is why the private sector and the public sector have to work together.”
Granholm, the former Michigan governor, touted the Biden administration’s efforts to combat cyberattacks.
She said “working with other countries, working with the private sector, working inside of our own government — the president has been issuing these executive orders, to make sure our own house is in order — [and] making sure that citizens are able to protect themselves” is all necessary to prevent cyberattacks.
“The bottom line is we have all got to up our games, with respect to our cyber defenses,” said Granholm.
“Whether you’re private sector, public sector, whatever, you shouldn’t be paying ransomeware attacks, because it only encourages the bad guys.”
And military action is on the table as an option to fight back against cybercrime, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Sunday.
Raimondo was asked on ABC’s “This Week” if the US should take a more aggressive approach to ransomware attacks that appear to largely be originating in Russia.
“We won’t stand for a nation supporting or turning a blind eye to a criminal enterprise,” Raimondo told host George Stephanopoulos.
“And as the president has said, we are considering all of our options and we’re not taking anything off the table as we think about possible repercussions, consequences or retaliation.”
Stephanopoulos then asked, “Should we be contemplating military action even if these are private, not government, entities?”
“As I said all options are on the table,” Raimondo replied.
“This is a top priority and all of us in the Cabinet and National Security Council are focused on it and considering all possible consequences.”
Raimondo said businesses should assume the attacks “are here to stay and, if anything, will intensify.”
The warnings come after FBI director Christopher Wray compared the challenges posed by cybersecurity threats to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
A ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline in May brought the largest US oil pipeline to a halt for six days. In addition, five of America’s largest beef plants were shut down Tuesday because of a cyberattack.
On Sunday, the Senate’s Sergeant-at-Arms Karen Gibson told CNN that the threat of cyberattacks “keeps me up at night” more so than the fear of another insurrection at the nation’s Capitol.