States and Congress grapple with H2O security post fresh federal alerts.

January 2, 2024
1 min read

Key Points:

  • The hacking of the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa in Pennsylvania has raised concerns about the cybersecurity of water utilities.
  • US security officials have issued warnings about the potential threat of cyberattacks on water utilities.
  • Cyberattacks on water utilities could lead to shutdowns of water supply or contamination of drinking water.
  • States and the federal government are grappling with how to protect water utilities from cyber threats.
  • Efforts to improve cybersecurity in the water sector have been hindered by a lack of funding and expertise.
  • Some states have passed legislation to enhance cybersecurity measures, while others have faced opposition from public water authorities.
  • Private water companies argue that stricter regulations will boost public confidence in tap water safety.
  • Critics argue that increased cybersecurity measures may lead to privatization and higher costs for consumers.
  • Water utilities are competing for grants from a $1 billion federal cybersecurity program.
  • Dragos Inc. has offered free access to its online support and software to help detect vulnerabilities and threats in water and electric utilities.

The hacking of a small municipal water authority in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania has prompted warnings from US security officials about the vulnerability of water utilities to cyberattacks. The incident, in which Iranian hackers targeted a piece of Israeli-made equipment, has highlighted the potential threat of hackers gaining control of automated equipment to shut down water pumps or contaminate drinking water.

States and the federal government are struggling to address the cybersecurity concerns faced by water utilities. However, the lack of funding and expertise in the sector has hindered efforts to improve cybersecurity measures. Some states, including New Jersey and Tennessee, have passed legislation to enhance cybersecurity, whilst others, such as Pennsylvania and Maryland, have faced opposition from public water authorities.

Private water companies argue that stricter regulations will improve public confidence in tap water safety, while critics claim that increased cybersecurity measures may lead to privatization and higher costs for consumers. Water utilities are also competing for grants from a $1 billion federal cybersecurity program.

In an attempt to address the lack of cybersecurity help for utilities, Dragos Inc. has offered free access to its online support and software to detect vulnerabilities and threats in water and electric utilities. The company hopes to move the needle in terms of improving cybersecurity for utilities that draw in less than $100 million in revenue.

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