A bipartisan group of senators led by Sen. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev., is asking Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Transportation (DOT) Secretary Pete Buttigieg about the agencies’ ability to meet their responsibilities as co-Sector Risk Management Agencies (SRMA) to detect, prevent, and respond to cyber threats to critical transportation infrastructure.

The senators’ Jan. 3 letter asks about the agencies’ are meeting six key responsibilities as co-SMRAs.

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The letter also cites data showing that ransomware attacks on the transportation sector jumped by 186 percent between June 2020 and June 2021, and the senators are also requesting information on efforts to update the Transportation Systems Sector-Specific Plan to provide effective assistance to improve transportation systems security and resilience posture.

Joining Sen. Rosen in the letter are Sens. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., Todd Young, R-Ind., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, and James Lankford, R-Okla.

“Cyberattacks on American transportation infrastructure are escalating in frequency and severity, as evidenced by the ransomware attack earlier this year on Colonial Pipeline, one of the nation’s largest pipelines, which led to the shutdown of a network that carries nearly half the gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel for the East Coast. At the same time, many state and local transit agencies are not fully equipped to implement more than basic cybersecurity protections,” the senators wrote.

“As such, Federal efforts to ensure that our nation is properly prepared to address cybersecurity threats to the transportation system require a delicate balance to provide critical assistance to entities that need new or additional cybersecurity support, while recognizing effective practices that some entities already have in place,” they added.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.