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  November 13th, 2017 | Written by

Senators Introduce Legislation to Upgrade Cybersecurity at US Ports

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  • A port cybersecurity incident would pose a great risk to the US economy.
  • Legislation mandates federal government work with private sector to protect ports from cyberattack.
  • As ports increasingly rely on technology, they increase their exposure to cyberthreats.

In the face of growing cybersecurity threats to America’s critical infrastructure, United States Senators Kamala D. Harris, a Democrat of California and a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Dan Sullivan, a Republican of Alaska, introduced last week the Strengthening Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Coordination in Our Ports Act of 2017.

This legislation would incorporate best practices in cybersecurity policy into the Department of Homeland Security and Coast Guard maritime protective missions. It would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a model for assessing cybersecurity risk in the maritime sector, as well as guidelines for information sharing with the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC). The bill would also ensure that the maritime sector is represented on the NCCIC’s 24/7 watch floor and would require the Coast Guard to integrate cybersecurity into its maritime security assessments and plans.

“California’s ports are America’s gateway to international commerce,” said Harris. “The Golden State is home to the two busiest ports in the country in Los Angeles and Long Beach, and a cybersecurity incident there or anywhere else would pose a great risk to our nation’s economy. The federal government must work with private sector to protect them.”

“The successful operation of our nation’s port facilities is vital to our economic stability and potential for growth,” said Sullivan. “As our ports increasingly rely on technology to facilitate the movement of goods, they increase their exposure to cyber threats and attacks. Given Alaska’s dependence on maritime shipping, communities across our state stand to be the most effected from potential disruptions at any port in our supply chain.

“Protecting our maritime cyber infrastructure is vital,” Sullivan added. “This legislation introduced today will help do just that.”

“The recent cyber-attack on a major shipping line doing business at the Port of Los Angeles was a call to action,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “With the increased digitization of our industry, cybersecurity is a top priority. This legislation is a major step toward addressing cyber security vulnerabilities in the maritime industry.”

“The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the foundation of the Southern California logistics industry, which employs 900,000 people across the region,” said Gary Toebben, President & CEO of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “Ensuring our maritime infrastructure is safe from digital threats is essential to the stability of our economy.”

“The Port of Long Beach relies heavily on information technology to operate, as well as to secure the port complex and its assets,” said Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. “Our San Pedro Bay is the leading gateway for US-Asia trade, so implementing a comprehensive enterprise-wide cyber security program that is integrated into a larger stakeholder framework remains one of our key information technology goals.”

“California ports are principal gateways to our freight transportation system – a system that 1/3rd of our state’s economy and jobs are dependent upon,” said Kristin Decas, CEO and Port Director of the Port of Hueneme, and President of the California Association of Port Authorities. “This measure will establish a critical process for identifying and addressing cybersecurity risks, further protect vital maritime facilities, and defend our state and national economic interests against potentially crippling cyber attack.”

This bill is the companion legislation to H.R. 3101, which was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Norma Torres of California in the aftermath of the worldwide ransomware attack that disabled the largest terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. The House legislation unanimously passed last month.