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Congressman Dan Donovan

Representing the 11th District of New York


House Passes Donovan Amendment to Strengthen Cybersecurity at American Ports

December 16, 2015
Press Release
Provides Coast Guard with jurisdiction over maritime facility cybersecurity, including New York Harbor

Washington, DC—December 16, 2015....Congressman Dan Donovan (NY-11) today announced that the House of Representatives passed the Strengthening Cybersecurity Information Sharing and Coordination in Our Ports Act, which includes a Donovan amendment empowering the U.S. Coast Guard to implement cyber standards to safeguard American ports.

Congressman Donovan said, “Ports are the entry point for tens of millions of containers and billions of dollars of goods, and their operations rely heavily on automated systems. It’s government’s job to protect critical infrastructure from attack, and I’m confident the U.S. Coast Guard will implement meaningful cyber defense systems for our ports.”

Current policy gives the U.S. Coast Guard jurisdiction over physical security at American ports. Cybersecurity, though, requires more robust coordination among the many private enterprises operating at domestic ports. Donovan’s amendment makes it crystal clear that the Coast Guard has full authority to implement cyber safeguards, avoiding the bureaucratic confusion that could allow vulnerabilities to persist.

Several international ports have suffered cyber-attacks recently. In 2012, Australian authorities learned that drug smugglers exploited flaws in a federal container tracking system, enabling criminals to identify which shipping containers police considered suspicious. From 2011 to 2013, drug traffickers hacked into the Port of Antwerp and remotely controlled the terminal operating systems to release containers to truckers without the port or shipping line knowing about the missing cargo.

Congressman Donovan continued, “With a clear precedent of hackers exploiting ports around the world, we need to take action to beef up our own security. Thankfully, there has not been a major breach from a terrorist organization, but we need to always prepare for the worst-case scenario. ”

The House Committee on Homeland Security adopted Donovan’s amendment when it considered the legislation earlier this year. After today’s House vote, the bill goes to the Senate for consideration.

Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed the Securing the Cities Act, a bill sponsored by Donovan that would make permanent a program which funds radiological weapons detection equipment for New York and other major cities.

-- Rep. Dan Donovan serves on the House Committee on Homeland Security and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He is New York City’s only Republican representative.