The House on Tuesday night adopted an amendment that would establish a pilot program aimed at discovering potential cyber security vulnerabilities to the nation’s electric grids and test technologies to protect systems from cyber-attacks.
The amendment by Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) and co-sponsored by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) was attached to the Intelligence Authorization Act (H.R. 3494) that was expected to pass the House Wednesday. The Senate already passed a similar provision in its version of the intelligence bill.
“A sophisticated cyber-attack could have disastrous consequences on the public health, safety, and economic security of all Americans,” Ruppersberger said in a statement. “We can’t wait any longer to address the vulnerabilities we inherently create when we rely on complicated digital software systems for everyday basics like electricity and running water. This measure will help us both discover security gaps in our energy grid and keep an eye on emerging threats that could disrupt electricity generation or even cost lives.”
Ruppersberger said his amendment was inspired by Russia’s 2015 cyber-attack on the Ukrainian electric grid.
The provision establishes a working group of government agencies, the energy industry and other experts to evaluate technology solutions proposed by the pilot program and directs the Department of Energy to report on the results of the program.