US House passes port cybersecurity act

13 Nov 2017
The Act was spurred on by June’s global NotPetya ransomware outbreak, which led to a shutdown of the biggest terminal at the Port of Los Angeles (pictured)

The Act was spurred on by June’s global NotPetya ransomware outbreak, which led to a shutdown of the biggest terminal at the Port of Los Angeles (pictured)

The US House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee has passed legislation aimed at addressing cybersecurity concerns at the country’s ports.

H.R.3101 - Strengthening Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Coordination in Our Ports Act of 2017 was reintroduced by House of Representatives member Norma Torres, who represents California's 35th congressional district.

It was spurred on by June’s global NotPetya ransomware outbreak, which led to a shutdown of the Port of Los Angeles’ biggest terminal.

The legislation’s main goals are to improve information sharing and collaboration in facing up to cybersecurity risks at ports in the US.

It requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to create voluntary guidelines for cybersecurity risk reporting, to develop and put into practice a maritime cyber security risk model and to make recommendations on enhancing cyber information-sharing.

Additionally, the Act requires the Commandant of the Coast Guard to direct Area Maritime Security Committees in order to ensure that area maritime security and facility security plans address cybersecurity risks.

In a statement, Ms Torres said: “The most recent cyberattack revealed serious vulnerabilities in our nation's maritime security, so I was pleased the Homeland Security Committee voted to approve my bill and to address these weaknesses before it’s too late.

“With more than $1.3tr in cargo moving annually through our nation’s 360 commercial ports and the increased use of cyber technology to manage port operations ranging from communication and navigation to engineering, safety, and cargo, it is critical to protect our nation’s maritime cyber infrastructure.”

A bipartisan Homeland Security Committee field hearing concerning physical security and cybersecurity at the US’ ports was held at the Port of Los Angeles in late October.

At the hearing, Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said that the facility is especially sensitive to the requirements for cybersecurity protection as both the port and the rest of the maritime shipping industry is increasingly relying on digital industrial infrastructure.

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