President Trump’s executive order bans foreign electrical equipment from national power grid

Pierluigi Paganini May 02, 2020

US power grid will not include any equipment manufactured by foreign states for security reasons, this states the executive order signed by President Trump.

This week President Trump signed an executive order that prohibits operators of US power grids to buy and install electrical equipment that has been manufactured outside the US.

“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.” reads the order.

President Trump is aware of the efforts of foreign adversaries that are increasingly targeting US power grid by creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in the US bulk-power system. The power grid provides electricity that supports national critical infrastructure, for this reason, foreign threat actors are increasingly targeting them.

Successful attacks against the US power grid 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.”

According to the White House, electrical equipment designed, developed, manufactured, or supplied by foreign states could be manipulated by foreign adversaries to include vulnerabilities that could be later exploited by nation-state actors.

The order also tasks the Secretary of Energy to identify current electrical equipment manufactured outside the US and to develop, along with heads of other agencies, to design or negotiate security measures to mitigate the risk of attacks.

“As soon as practicable, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Director of National Intelligence, the Board of Directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the heads of such other agencies as the Secretary considers appropriate, shall 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.” continues the order.

The US Department of Energy welcomed the new executive order.

“Today, President Trump demonstrated bold leadership to protect America’s bulk-power system and ensure the safety and prosperity of all Americans,” said Secretary Brouillette. “It is imperative 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.”

In May 2019, the Department of Energy confirmed that on March 2019, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., a cyber event disrupted energy grid operations in California, Wyoming, and Utah.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – power grid, hacking)

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