Federal officials highlight cybersecurity risk for water, wastewater systems


Federal officials are highlighting cybersecurity in light of recent hacks.

ABC News obtained a notice the Department of Homeland Security issued that says cyber actors are likely to “…continue exploiting vulnerabilities in water and wastewater systems networks.”

The document states, “we assess that high profile cyber-attacks against water and wastewater systems (WWS) sector networks will increase as criminal, nation-state, and terrorist cyber actors seek to exploit enduring vulnerabilities to achieve financial, geopolitical, or ideological objectives.”

“The Homeland Security memo basically reminds water treatment facilities and other parts of our critical infrastructure, be ever vigilant. Not just to the technical attacks, the 1’s and 0’s attacks, but also the social engineering attacks. The soft side. That’s frankly where most cybercrime occurs,” said Ron Sanders, the staff director of the Florida Center for Cybersecurity at USF.

The document points to several examples, including a hack at an Oldsmar water treatment plant.

“Most of these hacks are not technical in nature. It’s not some evil computer genius. It’s social engineering. That’s what we think happened in Oldsmar,” said Sanders.

Federal officials have detailed steps organizations can take to mitigate risk.

Some tech experts say education is key when it comes to cybersecurity.

“You need hardware, software, secure awareness training for different users, different ways of accessing data,” said Duarte Pereira, the CTO of Fitech Gelb. “everybody’s in the same boat. It could happen even at home. So you have to be aware of what’s going on.”

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