Speaking during a Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee hearing on the cyber vulnerabilities of the nation's power grid, U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) today called for urgent action to protect America's critical infrastructure from cyber attacks. Senator Coons is currently working with other Senate leaders to shape a way forward on comprehensive cyber security legislation to keep our nation safe from what Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta previously warned is a "high risk" of "another Pearl Harbor" in the form of a cyber attack on the United States.
"There are very few issues I lose more sleep about than our cyber capabilities," Senator Coons said. "We know the groups that are interested in a cyber attack on the United States, we know what they are capable of, and we know where we are vulnerable. It is essential that we take urgent action to mitigate this risk and keep our country's critical infrastructure, like our electric grid, safe and reliable for families and businesses in Delaware and across the country."
Senator Coons stressed at this morning's hearing the need for a comprehensive cyber security strategy that coordinates federal, state and local law enforcement efforts to protect our nation's critical infrastructure, much of which is now networked and online.
Senator Coons asked Joseph McClelland, Director of the Office of Electric Reliability at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to assess the current state of information sharing across silos. Director McClelland noted "there is certainly room for improvement" and said "the threats are moving at lightning speed." McClelland stressed that in this networked, integrated environment, "no one can live in isolation."
The witnesses at this morning's hearing were Joseph McClelland, Director of the Office of Electric Reliability at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Gregory C. Wilshusen, Director of Information and Technology at the Government Accountability Office; Gerry Cauley, President and Chief Executive Officer of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, and Todd Snitchler, Chairman of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.