Cybersecurity Threat to Water Treatment Plants

Clean water has been a necessity for mankind for as long as anyone could remember. In fact, ancient civilisations are built around bodies of water to help them survive and thrive. Thus, the importance of clean water sources cannot be emphasised enough.

Even a few days of failed water treatment facility operations can deal damage to millions of people. And because of how important it is for the human race, it has sadly been a target of numerous cyber-terrorist attacks.

Water system and treatment plant operators need to be aware of the dangers of a cyberattack. Thankfully, OT cybersecurity can be used to safeguard water treatment plants and facilities from cyberattacks. But how can you implement it? Let’s find out.

Why Water Treatment Plants are Prone to Cyberattacks?

As technology evolves, most industries, including water facilities implement machine automation. These machines are usually controlled in a central system for easier operation management. Sadly, this innovation, although poses more benefits, has caused water treatment plants to be vulnerable to cyberattacks.

A cyberattack is an attempt by cybercriminals to disable, damage, or seize for ransom significant digital assets. These include files, records, or documentation, which are necessary for the operation of vital systems. In terms of water facilities, the main goal of these attacks is to disrupt operations. This includes water treatment, storage facilities, and distribution networks.

These digital assets are frequently essential for the target business to carry out routine, everyday tasks. As a result, a successful attack can result in a significant organisational outage.

Why Should OT Cybersecurity Be a Priority for Water Systems?

OT cybersecurity is a security technique that aids a business in defending its digital systems against a cyberattack. It also refers to the methods and services used to safeguard the infrastructure, users, and data of OT.

Despite being crucial, water systems rarely attract attention unless something goes wrong. However, a municipal water system becomes a perfect target for potential terrorists or hackers looking for a ransom. Low security makes it possible for thieves to affect a large population with little effort and expense.

Large water systems may have dedicated IT workers to manage the system. But there may be no digital security for the majority of water infrastructure’s rural systems. Sometimes, one IT manager would look after the requirements of multiple water systems.

The following is a look at why cybersecurity in the water treatment industry warrants more protection:

1. Attack Risk in the Sector Is Elevated

A water treatment facility is theoretically easier to attack than other infrastructure. This is because of its fragmentation and size.

Some water treatment facilities in cities employ specialised OT cybersecurity professionals. However, people who live in remote locations might only have a small number of workers altogether. And they might have no cybersecurity experts.

2. Employee Vulnerability

Employees in water facilities are susceptible to ransomware attacks. A ransomware attack might take months to fully restore all services and operations. Employees in water facilities would benefit from knowing what types of cyberattacks could affect them. They should also know what steps to take to reduce the likelihood of future issues.

OT Cybersecurity Techniques for Preventing Attacks

Planning is necessary to prevent a cybersecurity breach. Every year, more and more ransomware assaults occur. Furthermore, the sophistication and targeting of these intrusions are increasing. Without a security plan, a municipality won’t be adequately safeguarded.

The greatest technique to improve cybersecurity at a water treatment facility is not one specific method. However, following these recommendations can help make improvements.

1. Security Education

Security education is the first step toward digital security. With security education, wide-reaching phishing schemes no longer deceive the majority of users. They are aware of the risks involved in downloading files or clicking links in unsolicited emails.

The broad kind of phishing has evolved into targeted spear phishing as thieves have perfected their methods. Hackers use this technique to find information on social media or from other sources that will give their emails more authority.

Users are more inclined to open links or download files if they believe the source of the email to be reliable. Workers must understand how to avoid these scams. It doesn’t take long to verify the identity of someone asking for private information.

2. Whitelisting Websites

Every day, successful cyberattacks occur, and it’s only a matter of time before a worker clicks on the wrong website. Most businesses adopt the strategy of blocking access to websites with objectionable content or time-wasting websites. A more proactive approach to safety is to restrict access to only a small number of whitelisted sites.

3. Perform Software Updates or Patching

Some cyberattacks take advantage of flaws in software infrastructure. However, when they find a fault, developers are continually fixing their goods. In a few recent instances, hackers exploited security holes in Java products that were well-known and had existed for ten years. The organisations concerned, however, had never upgraded to the most secure version.

Updating the software and tools you use is necessary to ensure all-around OT cybersecurity protection and avoid loopholes like this.

4. Adopt a Zero-Trust Approach and Role-Based Access

Limiting access helps cybersecurity concerns. Access should never be automatically extended to anyone, not even the most senior worker at a plant. These safety measures are required due to the potential consequences of attack success.

Another method of system protection is role-based access. Depending on their position within the company, employees ought to have access to certain information. Data access restrictions will lessen the impact of a cybersecurity breach.

It is advisable to implement the least privilege and use what is known as a “zero trust” strategy to help lockdown vital systems. OT cybersecurity admins can request temporary elevation of privileges through self-service workflows. By confirming the identity of the requester, the context of the request, and the risk of the access environment, the risk of a breach is reduced.

5. Identify Entry Points and Assets

It is crucial to be aware of IT assets. water facility managers should still make every effort to locate every IT asset that hackers might use. then they can evaluate each one to decide the best preventative actions to take. OT solutions provide asset management which makes asset discovery easier

6. Remote Monitoring Systems

An approach to safeguard water treatment facilities is a remote monitoring system like SCADA. When managers set up the system to automatically send alerts, they will be notified as soon as something unusual occurs. If a remote actor attempts to cause issues, the system may even shut down some of its components.

7. Password Management

An effective password can stop unauthorised access to networks and devices in water plants. When working with sensitive information, it is advised to always turn on password protection.

Your security will definitely benefit from having unique passwords set up for each application you use. Employees should change them frequently to keep both internal and external threats well-protected.

8. Putting in a Firewall

Another crucial step in protecting water system devices from unwanted attacks is the use of a firewall. You can stop unauthorised access to your computers and network with a reliable firewall that guards against the compromise of your data.

Furthermore, it provides you with improved protection against viruses and malware. A firewall will not permit anything suspicious or harmful to enter your private network if it is discovered trying to do so from the internet.

Conclusion

A water treatment facility’s efficiency depends on more than just applying the appropriate chemicals, or employing sizable personnel. It is also important to keep internet-connected devices secure.

As newer technology is being introduced in many industries due to its benefits, it is as important to make sure that firewalls and OT cybersecurity protocols are in place to prevent breaches and cyberattacks.

The Importance Of Cybersecurity For Your Business

Cybersecurity is the protection of computer systems and networks from cyber attacks. As a business owner, you are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of your company’s data and information. In today’s digital age, that means having a robust cybersecurity strategy in place to protect your business from online threats.

Cyberattacks can come in many forms, including viruses, malware, phishing scams, and denial-of-service attacks. A recent study by Ponemon Institute found that the average cost of a data breach has risen to $3.8 million, up from $3.5 million in 2017.

While no business is completely immune to cybersecurity threats, you can take steps to minimise the risk of an attack. Before diving into cybersecurity’s importance for your business, let’s look at some common cybersecurity threats.

Common Cybersecurity Threats:

Viruses and Malware

Viruses and malware are two of the most common types of cybersecurity threats. A virus is a malicious software that can infect your computer and spread to other computers. Malware is also designed to damage or disable your computer.

Phishing Scams

Phishing scams are another common type of cyberattack. This attack occurs when a hacker uses fraudulent emails or websites to trick you into giving them your personal information, such as your passwords or credit card numbers.

Denial-of-Service Attacks

A denial-of-service attack (DoS attack) is a type of cyberattack that attempts to make a computer or network resource unavailable to its users. DoS attacks can be carried out using various methods, including flooding a server with requests or traffic, overloading it with data, or sending malicious code that corrupts or crashes the system.

Now that we’ve covered some of the most common types of cybersecurity threats let’s look at why cybersecurity is so important for businesses.

The Importance of Cybersecurity for Businesses:

Cyberattacks can have a devastating impact on businesses. In addition to the direct costs of an attack, such as the cost of repairing damaged systems or lost data, businesses can also incur indirect costs, such as lost productivity, reputational damage, and legal fees. Here are some reasons why cybersecurity is important for your business:

Data Protection

One of the most important reasons to invest in cybersecurity is to protect your company’s data. In today’s digital age, businesses rely on data to operate and make decisions. If that data is stolen or compromised, it could have a devastating impact on your business.

There are many ways that data can be compromised, from hacking and falling victim to malware, to social engineering and phishing attacks. That’s why it’s important to have strong cybersecurity measures in place to protect your data.

Investing in cybersecurity provides a defence against these threats and protects your business’s data. Cybersecurity can also help you comply with data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Customer Protection

Another important reason to invest in cybersecurity is to protect your customers’ data. If your customer data is compromised, it could damage your reputation and cost you customers. In addition, if you are required to report a data breach under data protection laws, it could result in hefty fines.

Cybersecurity can help you avoid these costly breaches and protect your customers’ data. By ensuring that your systems are secure, you can give your customers peace of mind that their data is safe.

Reputation Protection

Your company’s reputation is another reason to invest in cybersecurity. A data breach can damage your reputation and make it difficult to gain new customers. It could also lead to legal problems. Investing in cybersecurity can protect your reputation and prevent negative consequences.

Operational Efficiency

Cybersecurity can also help improve your company’s operational efficiency. Protecting your data can limit downtime and disruptions caused by cyberattacks. This can help you save money and increase productivity.

Data Breaches Can Be Costly

A data breach can have a significant financial impact on a business. In addition to the cost of repairing the damage and restoring lost data, businesses may also face fines and legal fees if customer or employee data is compromised. In some cases, data breaches can also lead to loss of business and customers.

How Cybersecurity Can Help:

There are many ways to improve your cybersecurity and protect your business. You can invest in cybersecurity solutions like data backup and recovery, migrating hardware to the cloud, and implementing security automation. You can also create a culture of cybersecurity in your organisation by educating your employees on best practices. By taking these steps, you can help protect your business from cyberattacks and data breaches.

Who Should Invest in Cybersecurity?

All businesses, regardless of size or industry, should invest in cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is an important investment for any business, and it is worth the time and effort to implement strong security measures.

Despite popular belief, cybersecurity is not just for big businesses. Small businesses are just as much at risk of cyberattacks as large businesses are. In fact, attackers often target small businesses because they may have weaker security measures in place.

As you can see, there are many good reasons to invest in cybersecurity for your business. Cybersecurity is important for businesses of all sizes, and it should be a top priority for any company that wants to protect its data and reputation. While no business is immune to cyberattacks, you can take steps to reduce the risk of being attacked. These steps include investing in cybersecurity, educating employees about cybersecurity risks, and implementing strong security measures.