U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm speaks during a press conference at the White House in Washington on Jan.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said on Sunday that she opposes companies paying off ransomware criminals and said companies affected by cyberattacks should alert the federal government.
Opponents of the United States have the opportunity to shut down the country’s electricity grid, Granholm said, saying there have been “thousands of attacks on all aspects of the energy sector.”
After an attack on the world’s largest meat packer last weekend and an attack on the largest US fuel pipeline in May, pressure is mounting on both the US government and the private sector to better protect themselves against cyberattacks.
“We all need to improve our game on cyber defense,” she said in an interview with CNN.
The “bottom line is, folks – whether you’re in the private sector, public sector or whatever – you shouldn’t pay for ransomware attacks because it just encourages the bad guys.”
In a separate interview on Sunday, Granholm said that although she refuses such payments, she is not sure whether US President Joe Biden or Congress is willing to make ransomware payments illegal.
Businesses should be required to report ransomware attacks, Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner said in an interview with NBC on Sunday, despite not saying he supported the illegal payments.