President Trump on Friday signed the Executive Order on Securing the United States Bulk-Power System over threats foreign adversaries could exploit vulnerabilities in the nation's power supply network.
The executive order identifies emerging threats by America's adversaries as they could be plotting attacks. The order establishes a task force to defend the power grid from attacks and interlinks various governmental agencies to share vital information about the network. It also prohibits the use of equipment for the power grid that is manufactured by a foreign adversary.
"I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, find that foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in the United States bulk-power system, which provides the electricity that supports our national defense, vital emergency services, critical infrastructure, economy, and way of life," the order reads.
President Trump notes in the order that power grids are a target for those "seeking to commit malicious acts," specifically pointing out that "malicious cyber activities" are significant risks to the economy.
"The bulk-power system is a target of those seeking to commit malicious acts against the United States and its people, including malicious cyber activities, because a successful attack on our bulk-power system would present significant risks to our economy, human health and safety, and would render the United States less capable of acting in defense of itself and its allies.
"I further find that 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."
The signing of the order comes as the US economy has crashed, triggered by a pandemic that led to lockdowns across the country. In six weeks, 30 million folks have lost their jobs, as it appears, at this moment, America's adversaries could find an opportunity to strike.
Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette praised the executive order and President Trump's efforts to secure the grid, saying in a Department of Energy press release on Friday that it would "greatly diminish the ability of foreign adversaries to target our critical electric infrastructure."
"Today, President Trump demonstrated bold leadership to protect America's bulk-power system and ensure the safety and prosperity of all Americans," said Brouillette. "It is imperative that the bulk-power system be secured against exploitation and attacks by foreign threats. This Executive Order will greatly diminish the ability of foreign adversaries to target our critical electric infrastructure."
The order gives Brouillette and his agency the task of identifying equipment in the power grid that poses a danger.
The Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response tweeted Friday that it "stands ready to work with its partners to secure" the grid and protect it from "malicious actors."
Malicious actors have sought to leverage unauthorized access to the bulk power system against the U.S.for over a decade. At the direction of @SecBrouillette, CESER stands ready to work with its partners to secure the private and federal procurement of critical BPS components. https://t.co/7by42IZhd9— DOE CESER (@DOE_CESER) May 1, 2020
We have outlined that America's power grid "was never built with attacks in mind, it has plenty of vulnerabilities."
"Everything from malware cyber-attacks, to geomagnetic storms, to nuclear detonations in the atmosphere above the US, even sophisticated electronic weapons from Russia and China - all these threaten to shut down our grid and sow chaos."
And with pandemic and economic crash currently sending the country into turmoil, the executive order suggests emerging threats are fast developing by adversaries could be preparing to strike.