From foreign security agencies to hacking collectives intent on bringing modern society to a grinding halt, the more than 2.7 million miles of oil and natural gas pipelines crisscrossing the United States make an alluring target.
And standing between hackers and potentially devastating disruptions to the nation’s energy transportation system is a division at the Transportation Security Administration with six employees, according to the latest government data.
The division is designated by law as the government’s leading oversight authority for pipeline security. But a report earlier this year by the Government Accountability Office earlier this month described an under-budgeted operation lacking basic technical expertise that had consistently failed to keep pace with an increasingly sophisticated and aggressive cyber threat. Concern over the agency’s competency has risen to the point Congress is now debating giving some responsibility for pipeline security to the Department of Energy.