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The US Bans Imports of Partial Electrical System Equipment to Prevent Malicious Power Grid Attacks

published: 2020-05-08 10:00

On the grounds of national security and information security, US President Donald Trump issued an executive order on the 1st that American electric companies will be banned from purchasing, transferring, and installing any imported equipment of bulk-power system in the future, and are only permitted to purchase specific equipment from manufacturers in line with the specification.

Hackers appear wherever internet exists, hence the security of the power grid is also essential in addition to computers and the internet. Trump believes that the bulk-power systems support the country’s national defense, important emergency services, critical infrastructures, economy, and civil operations, yet foreign “hostile forces” are continuously fabricating and utilizing loopholes.

These malicious attacks have constituted profound threats to the economy, public health, and security, which further reduces the self-defense mobility of the US and its allies. As pointed out by Trump, the US happens to allow unrestricted purchase or usage of bulk-power system possessed, controlled, designed, developed, and manufactured by foreign rivals, who would induce catastrophic impact to the country if they manage to construct loopholes and commence attacks.

Despite the significant importance of a free investment environment on the overall growth of US economy, Trump believes that the national security of the country must also be considered at the same time. In regard to this belief, the Trump government has decided that energy operators will be banned from purchasing, importing, transferring, or installing any bulk-power system designed, manufactured, sold, installed, and maintained by companies controlled by foreign forces, at their own discretion.

Trump has also authorized the US Department of Energy to consult and stipulate pristine standards and restrictions for bulk-power system with the supervisors of other institutions, which can be used to review the relevant equipment and manufacturer list. A task force will be established at the same time to stipulate the purchase procedure, and will have to report to the president within a year from the date of order issuance.

What equipment will be affected by this order? As indicated by Bloomberg News, metering equipment including transformers, capacitance, and power transmission systems are all victims of the order. Dan Brouillette, Secretary of Energy, expressed accordingly that it is essential in protecting the bulk-power system from foreign attacks, and this specific executive order will serve the purpose of elevating the defense of essential electricity infrastructures.

US congress members and the Trump government have been constantly focusing on the information security of the power system in recent years, who are also considerably concerned regarding the country’s power grid. Director of National Intelligence warned in 2019 that both China and Russia are capable of launching online attacks toward the power grid and natural gas pipelines of the US.

This is not the first time that the US has done something like this. In February 2019, 11 congress members of the Democratic Party composed a joint letter to the US Department of Homeland Security; the letter pointed out that the safety of electricity will be compromised once the solar system is attacked by hackers, and pleaded to the government to stop using the solar inverter of Huawei. On May 17th of the same year, the US issued a Huawei ban stating that all American companies must be approved by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) when selling components and parts to Huawei, which once again damaged the reputation of Huawei.

High ranking officials of the US Department of Energy pointed out that the issue of the executive order may significantly increase the ratio of American made products.

 (Cover photo source: pixabay)

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