Lesko Opening Statement at Hearing on Securing Surface Transportation
WASHINGTON — Transportation and Maritime Security Subcommittee Ranking Member Debbie Lesko (R-Ariz.) today delivered the following opening statement at a joint subcommittee hearing entitled, Securing U.S. Surface Transportation from Cyber Attacks.
TSA has security authorities over America s surface transportation modes, including 6,700 mass transit systems, passenger and freight rail, as well as motorcoach, in both rural and urban communities. In addition, pipelines are considered a mode of surface transportation for natural gas and hazardous materials. Across the United States, including in my home state of Arizona, TSA is responsible for securing more than 2.5 million miles of pipelines carrying natural gas and other materials that quite literally fuel our economy.
While much progress has been made to provide better physical security for surface transportation there remains growing concern surrounding the cybersecurity of our nation s surface transportation assets.
As cyber actors become more sophisticated and surface transportation systems become increasingly reliant on computer systems, the vulnerability of this critical sector grows, along with the risk posed by nefarious actors who may seek to exploit cybersecurity vulnerabilities to cause service disruptions or conduct economic espionage.
In general, surface transportation systems utilize a number of interconnected information systems that, when exposed, present cybersecurity vulnerabilities. According to the American Public Transit Association, cyberattacks against surface transportation operators can destroy an agency s physical systems, render them inoperable, hand over control of systems to an outside entity or threaten the privacy of individuals or customers.
In the 115th Congress, the Republican Majority worked in a bipartisan manner to enact the TSA Modernization Act, the first-ever authorization of TSA since the agency was created in 2001. We also enacted the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Act of 2018, which created CISA in order to reform critical security programs within the Department and better-equip DHS to support the cybersecurity of transportation systems. Additionally, TSA Administrator Pekoske has worked to restructure the agency to reflect evolving mission needs.
It is important to note that while threats against our transportation sector may be evolving, they are not diminishing. Legitimate concerns have been raised as to the ability of TSA to provide necessary security for surface transportation assets, in particular pipelines. While I believe TSA is best-positioned as the government s authority on transportation security, it is incumbent upon the agency to demonstrate its commitment to securing all modes of transportation. The Department of Homeland Security and its components must work to mitigate growing cybersecurity threats and work hand-in-hand with industry partners to promote a culture of security and keep America s economy fueled and moving with the public s confidence.
Contact: Nicole Hager