US energy secretary opposes ransomware payments

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U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Sunday said she opposes companies paying off ransomware criminals and said firms targeted by cyberattacks need to alert the federal government.

Adversaries of the United States have the ability to shut down the country’s power grid, Granholm said, saying there are “thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector”. 

Pressure is mounting for both the U.S. government and the private sector to better guard against cyberattacks following an attack on the world’s largest meatpacker last weekend and one in May targeting the largest fuel pipeline in the United States.

“We have all got to up our game with respect to cyber-defenses,” she said in an interview with CNN.

The “bottom line is, people – whether you’re private sector, public sector, whatever – you shouldn’t be paying ransomware attacks, because it only encourages the bad guys.”

In a separate interview on Sunday, Granholm said while she opposes such payments, she is not sure that U.S. President Joe Biden or Congress is prepared to make ransomware payments illegal.

Reuters

Photo US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm participates in a news conference during which the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline was discussed, in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, in Washington, DC, USA, 11 May 2021. A demand for gasoline in Southeastern states has spiked following the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline due to a cyberattack. EPA-EFE/MICHAEL REYNOLDS / POOL