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Critical Infrastructure News

The Port of Houston, a critical piece of infrastructure along the Gulf Coast, issued a statement Thursday saying it had successfully defended against an attempted hack in August and “no operational data or systems were impacted.”

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly initially disclosed that the port was the target of an attack at a Senate committee hearing Thursday morning. She said she believed a “nation-state actor” was behind the hack, but did not say which one.

“We are working very closely with our interagency partners and the intelligence community to better understand this threat actor so that we can ensure that we are not only able to protect systems, but ultimately to be able to hold these actors accountable,” she said.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said the hack was “concerning” and said the U.S. needed to “push back against these nation-state actors who continue to probe and to commit these crimes against our public and private sector entities.”

Read more: NBC News

The White House said Friday it has called on a veteran transportation official to serve as a new “envoy” to the nation’s ports as the Biden administration seeks to unknot supply chains that have been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The new envoy, John D. Porcari, previously served as deputy transportation secretary in the Obama administration. He was an adviser to President Biden before his inauguration, and some labor leaders had hoped he might be chosen as transportation secretary.

In the envoy role, Porcari will work with a White House task force and the Department of Transportation to help get goods flowing freely across oceans and around the country. The pandemic has led to rolling closures of factories and ports around the world, disrupting finely calibrated supply chains, slowing shipments and contributing to rising prices in the United States.

The ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, key links with Asia, have been especially affected with ships waiting offshore and cargo sometimes sitting for almost two weeks to be transferred to a rail car.

Read more: WashPost

China partly shut the world’s third-busiest container port after a worker became infected with Covid, threatening more damage to already fragile supply chains and global trade as a key shopping season nears.

All inbound and outbound container services at Meishan terminal in Ningbo-Zhoushan port were halted Wednesday until further notice due to a “system disruption,” according to a statement from the port. An employee tested positive for coronavirus, the eastern Chinese city’s government said.

The closed terminal accounts for about 25% of container cargo through the port, calculates security consultant GardaWorld, which said “the suspension could severely impact cargo handling and shipping.” Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd AG said there will be a delay in sailings.

Read more: Al Jazeera

Despite an overall decrease in maritime traffic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, piracy and armed robbery of ships rose by nearly 20 per cent during the first half of last year, a senior UN official told the Security Council on Monday.

Addressing a high-level debate on enhancing security for seafarers, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, the UN Secretary-General’s Chef de Cabinet, highlighted the need for stronger international cooperation.

Incidents in Asia have nearly doubled, while West Africa, the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, and the South China Sea, were the most affected areas, she said.

Read more: Homeland Security Today

The vulnerability of the critical maritime sector to cyber attack along with a threat landscape “markedly more complex than ever before, posing novel threats to our national security and economic strength and stability” underscore the need to apply tested risk management principles to guarding the cyber domain, according to the service’s newly updated Cyber Strategic Outlook.

The U.S. Coast Guard’s Cyber Strategy issued in 2015 “established cyberspace as a new operational domain for the U.S. Coast Guard,” noted Commandant Adm. Karl Schultz, and the new outlook “reaffirms that foundation and that we will bring the same ethos, proven doctrine and operational concepts, and over 230 years of experience to bear on our operations in and through cyberspace.”

Read more: Homeland Security Today