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The EPA is cracking down on cybersecurity threats

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The Environmental Safety Company is ramping up its inspections of important water infrastructure after warning of “alarming vulnerabilities” to cyberattacks.

The company issued an enforcement alert yesterday warning utilities to take fast motion to mitigate threats to the nation’s consuming water. The EPA plans to extend inspections and says it would take civil and prison enforcement actions as wanted.

“Cyberattacks towards [community water systems] are growing in frequency and severity throughout the nation,” the alert says. “Attainable impacts embody disrupting the therapy, distribution, and storage of water for the neighborhood, damaging pumps and valves, and altering the degrees of chemical compounds to hazardous quantities.”

“Cyberattacks towards [community water systems] are growing in frequency and severity throughout the nation.”

Greater than 70 % of water methods inspected since September 2023 didn’t adjust to mandates underneath the Secure Ingesting Water Act (SDWA) that should cut back the chance of bodily and cyberattacks, the EPA stated. That features failing to take fundamental steps like altering default passwords or slicing off former staff’ entry to amenities. Since 2020, the EPA has taken greater than 100 enforcement actions for violations of that part of the SDWA.

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“Overseas governments have disrupted some water methods with cyberattacks and will have embedded the potential to disable them sooner or later,” the enforcement alert says. One instance it cites is Volt Storm, a People’s Republic of China state-sponsored cyber group that has “compromised the IT environments of a number of important infrastructure organizations,” in response to a Division of Homeland Safety advisory issued in February.

The EPA’s enforcement alert asks utilities to comply with suggestions for sustaining cyber hygiene, together with conducting consciousness coaching for workers, backing up OT / IT methods, and avoiding public-facing web.

It follows a letter EPA administrator Michael Regan and nationwide safety advisor Jake Sullivan despatched to state governors earlier this yr warning them of cyber risks to the nation’s consuming and wastewater methods. It led to a March convening the place the Nationwide Safety Council requested every state to give you an motion plan to handle these vulnerabilities by late June.

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