US Ports Under Cyber Security Threat

According to the Brookings Institute’s study on US port facilities, a cyber disruption at the nation’s largest seaport complex of Los Angeles and Long Beach would hit 20% of the US marine transportation system. The report — “The Critical Infrastructure Gap: U.S. Port Facilities and Cyber Vulnerabilities” — examined  cyber vulnerabilities at six different U.S. ports.

Los Angeles  was highlighted for its lack of cyber-security vulnerability assessment and cyber incident response plan.

“Like many other ports in this study, physical security is the primary focus of the security forces, and though many of its security and other systems rely on networked systems, cyber-security is viewed as an IT function that lies outside the security portfolio,” said the report.

American ports, terminals, ships, refineries, and support systems are vital components of the nation’s critical infrastructure, national security, and economy. Cyber attacks on industrial control systems could kill or injure workers, damage equipment, expose the public and the environment to harmful pollutants, and lead to extensive economic damage.

In its conclusions the study called for Congress to pass legislation to give the US Coast Guard authority to enforce cyber-security standards for maritime critical infrastructure; adoption of cyber-security standards for port facilities; and for the Department of Homeland Security to structure a grant program to provide incentives for cyber-security projects, among other recommendations.

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