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Infrastructure Keeps Coming Under Attack From Chinese Hackers

Members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Casey (D-PA) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ), have introduced legislation aimed at protecting American port infrastructure from cybersecurity threats posed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including espionage. The Secure Smartports Act mandates the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s National Counterintelligence and Security Center (NCSC) to create and execute a plan to assist companies and port systems in defending against the risks associated with Chinese technology, which the PRC could exploit to spy on and potentially control critical infrastructure and supply chains.

According to the Tri-State Alert, the United States’ integrated network of ports, terminals, vessels, waterways, and land-side connections that constitute the Nation’s Marine Transportation System (MTS) relies on digital systems to enable their operations, including ship navigation, the movement of cargo, engineering, safety, and security monitoring. These systems have revolutionized the maritime shipping industry and American supply chains by enhancing the speed and efficiency of moving goods to market, but the increasing digital interconnectedness of our economy and supply chains have also introduced vulnerabilities that, if exploited, could have cascading impacts on America’s ports, the economy, and everyday hard-working Americans.

This legislation would direct NCSC to alert the U.S. port and shipping industry to the threat of PRC-backed shipping and logistics infrastructure, technology, and software to U.S. supply chains to help protect against them. As the agency whose mission is to “provide counterintelligence outreach to U.S. private sector entities at risk of foreign intelligence penetration,” it’s critical to our national and economic security that NCSC work with ports and shipping companies to understand the risks of using Chinese technology.

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