LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Officials at ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach will look to better prepare for the threat of cyber attacks after a new report found the nation's largest port system could be vulnerable, officials said Wednesday.
The study from the Brookings Institute entitled "The Critical Infrastructure Gap: U.S. Port Facilities and Cyber Vulnerabilities" cited data indicating almost 50 percent of California's gasoline supply comes from foreign imports, the vast majority of which arrives on tankers at Los Angeles or Long Beach.
The report warned a cyber disruption at either port could impact 20 percent of the U.S. maritime transportation system - with dire economic consequences.
"In just a matter of days store shelves throughout the country would start to run empty, and the movement of 17 million Southern Californians, along with their economy, would be idled," the report stated.
Captain John Holmes, the deputy director for operations at the Port of L.A., told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO the findings estimated any fallout from such an attack would also severely cripple the U.S. economy at large.
Port of L.A.'s Capt. John Holmes
"It's about a billion dollars to the U.S. economy for every day that the port is not operating," said Holmes.
Despite a new $43 million Port of Los Angeles Police Headquarters features over 400 security cameras, the report found container operations at the port were most at risk to a cyber attack "because of their extensive reliance upon logistics management systems."
Holmes said part of the challenge is transforming the culture at the Port - which handles over 8 million containers annually - in order to shift its security focus to a more local approach.
"When you talk about cyber security, their visions go to somebody in a dark room in another country trying to hack into the Department of Defense," he said. "But the reality is there are all kinds of bad actors around the world that probe and try to get into all kinds of systems just to see if they can do it."
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