Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm
said on Sunday that the United States
' adversaries are already capable of shutting down the country's power grid through cyber intrusions.
“I believe there are very malicious actors
trying,” she said, adding, “Even as we speak, there are thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector and the private sector in general.”
Granholm mentioned, without naming the company, that Colonial Pipeline
Co. was hit by a crippling cyberattack
by a ransomware
group in May, forcing the company to temporarily shut down its gasoline distribution networks in the South before paying the hackers
$4.4 million. She urged energy companies to avoid paying ransom.
“The bottom line is that people
, whether they are in the private sector, the public sector, or whatever, should not pay ransomware attacks because it only encourages the bad guys,” she said.
Granholm even advocated for a law prohibiting the payment of such ransoms, though she added, "I'm not sure whether Congress
or the president
are at that point."
When asked if American adversaries can now shut down the US power grid, she replied, "Yes, they can."
Former Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice said the US and other countries should discuss law enforcement and intelligence cooperation with countries like Russia
, which is suspected of being the source of some ransomware attacks, in order to “shut it down.”
Rice stated that this would “put to the test the reality of how much the Russian government is or is not involved” in these attacks.
Granholm appeared on CNN
's "State of the Union" and NBC
's "Meet the Press," while Rice was on CBS' "Face the Nation."