Security in Water Industry

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The new warfare is taking place in industrial internet as web of devices are connected to the internet. Cybersecurity threats targeting to control everything from automated manufacturing to power grid and water supplies and utilities are in the crosshairs.

Mr. Eddie Habibi said “Weapons of mass destruction don’t have to be physical bombs that move from one location to another, they can be these ticking bombs in these control systems that cause severe damage and bring down the critical infrastructure of a country”.

Water supplies and utilities have been highlighted with poor security, where operation networks and control systems are inadequately protected. It’s been recognized as potential vulnerable to physical disruption and biological contamination through any kind of cyberattack threats. Dams, collector sewers and pipelines can be misused, to place a destructive devices or highly combustible materials. If dam hadn’t been undergoing maintenance, cyber attackers would have been able to manipulate the sluice gate used to protect nearby properties from flooding. This security situation in water critical infrastructure is raising concerns and prompting utilities to ask hard questions about which actions need to be taken to improve cybersecurity situations.

SCADA systems plays an important role in industrial operations. Industries like oil and gas, smart grid, agriculture and utilities implements SCADA systems and network to collect data and automate process. While traditionally known to be isolated from the internet, it can be penetrated as shown by cyber attacks like Stuxnet and DuQu. It was demonstrated also when a disgruntled worker from Queensland, Australia access the system of the wastewater treatment plant and managed to spill more than 200,000 gallons of sewage into parks, rivers and hotel ground even the facility was not highly networked or automated. This happens as SCADA systems are subject to software vulnerabilities which are common to IT systems. Cyber attackers exploit this vulnerability to gain control of the systems.

Security measures are essential in the industries. The need for increased industrial cyber safety extends far beyond water plants. But, as long as no cybersecurity standards in place specific for water industry. Water industries facilities should monitor networks and systems, review alerts and log events. Water related sector should know their networks and as early detection of threats is key preventing an attack.