| Preventing water system cyber-attacks critical to health, safety, security
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Preventing water system cyber-attacks critical to health, safety, security

October National Cybersecurity Awareness MonthWhile risk assessments and emergency response planning are year-round priorities for water systems, National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is observed annually in October to heighten awareness about the specific vulnerabilities of electronic, computer and other automated systems.

On Oct. 29, AWWA and New York University will present a webinar, Managing Cyber Risk in the Water Sector: Threats, Responsibility and Solutions. An expert panel will review recent cybersecurity cases and challenges impacting the water sector and discuss risks, potential solutions, best practices and implications for rating agencies and insurers.

Every day, cyber-attacks maliciously disable computers and phones, breach customer and employee data and even use compromised computers as a launch point for other attacks.

Kevin Morley“Since Cybersecurity Awareness Month was initiated 17 years ago as a collaborative effort between the U.S. government and industry, cyber-attacks have become the top threat facing our business and critical infrastructure – including within the water and wastewater sector,” said Kevin Morley (pictured left), AWWA’s manager of federal relations.

“It is critical that water systems proactively manage this vulnerability and respond swiftly and effectively to cyber-attacks,” Morley added. “Failure to do so risks public health and safety, undermines national security, and can result in a major disaster, serious reputational harm and potential liability.”

Cybersecurity is a key element of America’s Water Infrastructure Act (AWIA) of 2018, which requires community water systems serving a population of 3,300 or more to consider cybersecurity threats as part of a risk and resilience assessment and emergency response plan.

AWWA’s resources pages for cybersecurity and small systems link to information and training opportunities to help water systems actively engage and implement cybersecurity best practices:

“AWWA’s resources are recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework as providing an effective, sector-specific approach to evaluate and implement cybersecurity controls,” Morley said.