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TSA amends cyber security requirements for pipeline operators

The revised directive provides operators with greater flexibility over security management and incident response


On the grounds of growing ransomware attacks, the Biden administration has issued revised cybersecurity requirements for large-scale US pipeline operators.

Oil and gas industry groups have previously claimed that the Transportation Security Administration's rules don’t take into account the differences in how different pipelines run and how they use technology, respectively.

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Among other things, the updated directive necessitates certain pipeline operators to 

ensure‭‬ security control measures that will keep industrial equipment running even when computer systems get hacked or compromised.

Pipeline operators are also required to ‭‬disseminate an incident response plan describing the steps that will be taken following a cyber attack.

The issued amendments are intended to give operators more flexibility over what cyber defensive measures they can take, according to the Transportation Security Administration. 

"Our goal was to improve the standards to make it even more secure going forward because this threat is very real [and] has significant impacts across the country," TSA Administrator David Pekoske said in an interview with CNN last month.

Per reports, the infamous ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline's computer systems in May 2021 that shut down 5,500 miles of pipeline for days, was the catalyst for the TSA’s revised directive.

“The disruption of Colonial Pipeline -- which provides roughly 45% of the fuel consumed on the East Coast -- made critical infrastructure firms "much more sensitive" to their cybersecurity needs,” Pekoske told CNN.

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