Senators discuss federal cybersecurity following SolarWinds hack

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — A ransomware attack and shutdown of the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S. has led to panic at the pump over fears of shortages and gas price increases.

Government officials say the 2020 SolarWinds cyber hack by the Russian government should have been a wake-up call.

“A foreign adversary was able to infiltrate and spy on nine federal agencies and dozens of private companies, all at the same time,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) during a hearing this week.

The U.S. is instead dealing with another cyber attack, this time on the largest fuel pipeline in the country.

President Joe Biden said the latest attack is linked to a Russian gang and not the Russian government. Still, officials like Sen. Peters say the U.S. has to do more to protect itself.

“We also need to rethink how we approach cyber warfare,” he said. “Our foreign adversaries like the Chinese and Russian government do not rest.”

Brandon Wales of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said strengthening security will require significant changes.

“It will not be easy, smooth, or cheap,” said Wales. “But the cost of not doing so is simply too high.”

There’s a bipartisan proposal in the Senate to provide $20 million over seven years to fight cyber attacks. But Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) said the problems go beyond funding.

“The SolarWinds and Pulse Secure VPN attacks targeted federal agencies and yet it was private sector companies that discovered them. That should be concerning to all of us,” said Portman.

Lawmakers are also concerned government agencies are not being transparent with Congress about attacks.