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An industrial facility near the Houston Ship Channel, part of the Port of Houston. Photo: LOREN ELLIOTT/AFP via Getty Images

The Port of Houston, a critical port on the Gulf Coast, "successfully defended itself" against an attempted cyberattack last month, it said in a news release Thursday.

State of play: Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly first told a Senate panel about the attack Thursday morning, adding that she believed a “nation-state actor” was behind it.

  • “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,” Easterly said.

The port said “no operational data or systems were impacted” in the attack.

Details: The hack involved the password management program ManageEngine ADSelfService Plus, according to AP. CISA along with the FBI and Coast Guard last week warned about a vulnerability in that system that cyber actors were likely to exploit.

Why it matters: Defending the U.S. against cyberattacks and cybercrime has been a key priority for the Biden administration.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 13, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on combating cyberattacks

On Wednesday, October 13th, Axios chief technology correspondent Ina Fried and tech policy reporter Margaret Harding McGill examined the strategies that governments and data-driven industries are employing to protect against harmful cyberattacks, featuring Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) executive director Brandon Wales and Silverado Policy Accelerator co-founder & chairman Dmitri Alperovitch.

Brandon Wales illustrated the need for more action from the private sector in helping the government mitigate ransomware attacks after they’ve occurred, CISA’s new Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative, and the prevalence of both nation-states and criminal organizations executing more cyber-related attacks.

  • On why companies should prepare for potential cyberattacks earlier: “I think part of changing that calculus is for the industry to better understand that the time to grapple with ransomware is not after you’ve been hit, because after you’ve been hit, you’re in an incredibly difficult and challenging circumstance and you’re often going to go with whatever you think is going to be most expeditious to get your network back up and running quickly.”
  • On what sorts of attacks are becoming more common: “I think that we are absolutely in an environment where we are facing both a concerted effort by nation-states to utilize cyber-related attacks to be prepared for future disruptions of our critical infrastructure, to steal our technology and our government secrets, as well as criminal organizations using cyber to further their nefarious criminal enterprises.”

Dmitri Alperovitch clarified how ransomware attacks have impacted global supply chains, how private sector companies can protect themselves from future attacks, and the talent shortage of cybersecurity professionals in the workforce.

  • On the recent rise in ransomware cyberattacks: “Ransomware has been a problem for a while now, but it certainly seems like the attacks have only accelerated, particularly in the last year or so.”
  • On how to fix the shortage of talent in the cybersecurity industry: “There’s no silver bullet, but we have to invest in our education. That’s key. We need to pump out more cyber security professionals out of our academic institutions.”

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with Google SVP of Global Affairs Kent Walker, who explained what large tech companies are doing to combat increasing cyberattacks.

  • “We developed new security techniques, we rebuilt our architecture and we adopted a defense in depth approach to security...one example is we take a zero trust approach. We verify anyone accessing our systems, and we use techniques like multi-factor authentication because we knew that going forward, we had to expand the way we're thinking about the whole threat landscape and continually stay evolving and to stay ahead of the attackers.”

Thank you Google for sponsoring this event.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

FDA panel endorses shot of J&J booster for adults

Photo: Wolfgang Kumm/picture alliance via Getty Images)

Members of the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine expert panel on Friday unanimously endorsed a booster shot for adult recipients of Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at least two months after the initial dose.

Why it matters: The advisory committee raised concerns about a dearth of data to support their decision but ultimately decided to support an additional shot for those over 18.

Capitol Police officer indicted for obstructing Jan. 6 investigation

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the Capitol on Jan. 6. Photo: Brent Stirton/Getty Images

A U.S. Capitol Police officer has been indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly helping hide evidence of a participant's involvement in the Jan. 6 riot.

Driving the news: Officer Michael A. Riley, 50, is accused of telling the unidentified participant, referred to as "Person 1," in the Jan. 6 riot to delete posts from Facebook, which showed them in the Capitol during the attack.