Lawmaker Says Cyberattack Could Be Threat To America

( )- Cyberattacks have proven to not be relegated to private companies that expose consumers’ personal information. They have also shown recently that they can cause quite the disruption in supply chains and other areas of life.

Following the cyberattack that took down the Colonial Pipeline and has caused a shortage of gas in the U.S. Southeast, lawmakers’ eyes are now open to the “existential” threat they pose to America’s energy system.

On Sunday, Republican Senator Ron Johnson said there are “no easy solutions” to threats of cybersecurity. However, he said the U.S. should now realize “how incredibly vulnerable our fuel grid is, our electrical grid is.”

Over the weekend, Colonial Pipeline said it was back to “normal operations” from the attack that caused the company to shut down its operations for a week. The ransomware attack was done to the infrastructure of its network, which transports jet fuel and gasoline from Texas to New York.

Following the attack, the FBI confirmed it came from an Eastern European hacking group called DarkSide. The criminal gang of cyber criminals holds big companies hostage with their ransomware attacks, demanding hefty ransom payouts to unlock their systems.

Originally, Colonial Pipeline said it wouldn’t pay the ransom. Later, though, Bloomberg News reported that it eventually paid $5 million to regain access and control of its systems. The White House refused to comment on whether a ransom payment actually happened.

In his interview with WABC 770 AM, Johnson said that President Joe Biden’s plans to transition the country to cleaner energy could increase the vulnerability of the country’s energy systems. As he said:

“We are a fossil fuel-based economy and will be a fossil fuel-based economy for decades. We need to recognize that, harden our grid under that reality, and don’t make ourselves more vulnerable with the Green New Deal.”

Johnson, a Republican senator from Wisconsin, is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In April, Democratic Senator Ed Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez re-introduced bills that would support the Green New Deal. That “plan” would eventually move the U.S. to energy resources that result in zero emissions. It would also work to remove pollution by investing in zero-emission vehicles, high-speed rails and public transportation.

Republicans have pushed back against the plan, saying it’s an extreme proposal that would give the federal government way too much power over the production of energy in America.

But, Johnson went even a step further than some of his Republican colleagues. He said the transition to other renewable energy forms such as solar panels could make the U.S. more vulnerable to future cyberattacks.

He said:

“With everybody hooking up their solar panels and hooking into the grid so they can get a few shekels for the electricity they’re selling into the grid, we become more and more vulnerable.”

Johnson said this creates “more points of contact that cyber-attackers can exploit. He continued:

“We really need to change the direction we’re headed in here. No administration has paid sufficient attention to the vulnerabilities of our electrical grid. This could be existential.”