National Emergency as Trump Bans Foreign Power Grid Kit

President Trump has declared another national emergency: this time over the threat of foreign adversaries launching crippling cyber-attacks against the US power grid.

A new executive order issued on Friday noted that attacks on “bulk power” equipment could have a devastating impact on national defense, emergency services, critical infrastructure and the economy.

It has therefore prohibited the ongoing acquisition and installation of any equipment “in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest.

“The unrestricted acquisition or use in the United States of bulk-power system electric equipment designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by persons owned by, controlled by, or subject to the jurisdiction or direction of foreign adversaries augments the ability of foreign adversaries to create and exploit vulnerabilities in bulk-power system electric equipment, with potentially catastrophic effects,” it read.

The order also empowers the energy secretary to find existing systems which have been bought in from abroad and are exposed to cyber-sabotage, and “develop recommendations on ways to identify, isolate, monitor, or replace such items as soon as practicable, taking into consideration overall risk to the bulk-power system.”

A new Task Force on Federal Energy Infrastructure Procurement Policies Related to National Security will include secretaries of defense, commerce, homeland security, the interior and directors of national intelligence and the Office of Management and Budget. It will be set up to develop new procurement policies and make additional recommendations.

Although not named directly, the order is likely to be aimed at Russia and China. Kremlin-backed hackers, such as the Dragonfly and Energetic Bear APT groups, have been probing US energy infrastructure for years, prompting occasional alerts from the intelligence agencies.

An annual Worldwide Threat Assessment report published by the US Senate Intelligence Committee last year warned that the US electric grid could suffer the same fate as Ukrainian energy companies in 2015 and 2016, when Russian attacks left many without power.

“Moscow is mapping our critical infrastructure with the long-term goal of being able to cause substantial damage,” it warned.

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