Following the closure of several U.S. container terminals due to the recent cyberattack, Congressmen Alan Lowenthal (CA-47) and Ted Poe (TX-02) today called on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to provide a classified briefing to Congressional Members representing ports throughout the nation.
In the letter to DHS Secretary John Kelly, the Congressmen—both co-chairs of the PORTS Caucus—point out that our nation’s ports are critical components within our national freight network, accounting for over $4.5 trillion a year in economic activity. Over a quarter of the U.S. economy depends on goods moving through our seaports. A shutdown of just one terminal for even single day can have significant economic impact, amounting to tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Congressmen requested the briefing to help Congress better understand the scope of existing cybersecurity information sharing programs between DHS and critical infrastructure operators, such as port terminal operators.
“Our nation’s ports are the gateways to our national economy. We cannot leave them vulnerable to these cyberattacks,” Congressman Lowenthal said. “We have to make sure that we use every tool at our disposal to prevent attacks at the heart of our economic infrastructure. Our federal security agencies have some of the best cybersecurity experts in the world, and these agencies should leverage that expertise to help prevent attacks on critical infrastructure like our ports.”
On June 27, the massive worldwide cyberattack infiltrated. Among many other companies, the computer systems of Denmark-based A.P. Moller-Maersk, the world’s largest shipping company. The attack halted operations at 17 container terminals operated by Maersk subsidiary APM, including at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of New York/New Jersey—two of the largest in the United States.
In addition, the Congressmen wrote that they hope DHS can outline opportunities for greater public-private collaboration to improve the resilience of key freight infrastructure at our ports.
The more than 100-Member PORTS Caucus was developed to promote the importance of our nation’s ports with regard to our nation’s economy and the need to secure them by promoting dialogue between Congress, the Administration and relevant federal agencies, as well as important industry officials.