| AWWA testifies on water cybersecurity before U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security
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AWWA testifies on water cybersecurity before U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security

In a hearing today on cybersecurity before the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Protection Subcommittee of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) testified about the importance of a collaborative approach to cybersecurity oversight in the water sector.

The hearing was titled “Securing Operational Technology: A Deep Dive into the Water Sector” and included cybersecurity experts from across the country. AWWA Federal Relations Manager Kevin Morley testified on behalf of the Association, which represents 50,000 water professionals throughout the United States and beyond.

Morley highlighted AWWA’s recommendation for congressional action to develop a new cybersecurity governance framework in the water sector that leverages technical knowledge from water utilities and cybersecurity experts and provides oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA already regulates drinking water and wastewater utility operations.

This collaborative approach builds on a similar model that has already been successfully applied in the electric sector and reflects the public-private collaboration called for in the National Cyber Strategy. The value of consistent public-private collaboration was emphasized based on recent engagements with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), including a stakeholder engagement process facilitated by the Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC) which published “Incident Response Guide: Water and Wastewater Systems (WWS) Sector.” Morley also stressed the need for a coordinated outreach program among EPA, CISA and sector partners to raise the visibility and awareness of CISA’s Vulnerability Scanning service.

In addition to collaborating with trusted partners, Morley said five additional action items should be considered to improve cybersecurity through the water sector. These areas include:

  • Unified Messaging
  • Inform and Enable
  • Technology Transformation
  • Improve Threat Information Sharing
  • Research and Development

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Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most vital resource. With approximately 50,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.