Feds Warn of Cyberattacks Against Water Systems

The federal government warned this week that the nation’s water systems are at high risk of cyberattacks originating from foreign governments, including Iran.

“Drinking water and wastewater systems are a lifeline for communities, but many systems have not adopted important cybersecurity practices to thwart potential cyberattacks,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA and NSC take these threats very seriously and will continue to partner with state environmental, health, and homeland security leaders to address the pervasive and challenging risk of cyberattacks on water systems.”

“The Biden Administration has built our national security approach on the foundational integration of foreign and domestic policy, which means elevating our focus on cross-cutting challenges like cybersecurity,” added National Security Advisory Jake Sullivan. “We’ve worked across government to implement significant cybersecurity standards in our nation’s critical infrastructure, including in the water sector, as we remain vigilant to the risks and costs of cyber threats. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the EPA to bolster the cybersecurity of America’s water and wastewater systems.”

All 50 state governors were invited to a virtual meeting Thursday March 21, 2024, from 1:00pm – 2:30 pm EST to learn how they can protect infrastructure against cyber threats. The EPA and the Water Sector and Water Government Coordinating Councils are also in the process of forming a Water Sector Cybersecurity Task Force to identify risk management strategies.

Officials in California have taken numerous steps to increase security, but many water systems remain at risk because of aging infrastructure, outdated software, and a lack of centralized oversight. In 2021, a water treatment plant in the San Francisco Bay Area was hit by a cyberattack. Hackers were able to access the plant’s system remotely and delete programs used to treat drinking water. Fortunately, the programs were quickly reinstalled.

In 2013, Iranian hackers targeted New York’s Bowman Avenue dam in a failed attempt to gain control of sluice gate, which controls water levels and flow.


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Finance

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