US Water Utilities Targeted by Cyberattacks; EPA Warns Cyberbreaches Becoming More Severe, Frequent

By Giuliano De Leon

May 20, 2024 08:56 PM EDT

US Water Utilities Targeted by Cyberattacks; EPA Warns Cyberbreaches Becoming More Severe, Frequent
A person works at a computer during the 10th International Cybersecurity Forum in Lille on January 23, 2018.
(Photo : PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP via Getty Images))

EPA claims that cyberattacks target water utilities in the US. The Environmental Protection Agency said that these cyber breaches are becoming increasingly frequent and severe.

US Water Utilities Targeted by Cyberattacks

On Monday, May 20, the EPA issued an enforcement alert. According to The Associated Press' latest report, the warning urges water systems to take countermeasures to protect the United States' drinking water from cyberattacks.

The agency said that over the past year, around 70% of US water utilities inspected by federal officials have violated anti-cyberthreat standards. Because of this, officials warned small water systems to improve their protection against cyberattacks.

They warned that previous cyberattacks from Russia, Iran, and other adversarial nation-states have drastically impacted water systems of all sizes across the United States.

READ NEXT: UnitedHealth Reports Losses of $872 Million to Change Healthcare Cyberattack

EPA Warns Water Utilities

Time Magazine reported that the EPA's alert states that many water systems in the US are failing to prevent cyber breaches in basic ways. These include cutting off system access to former employees and changing default passwords.

The agency explained that water systems use computer software for distribution and treatment plants. This is why the EPA highly urges them to protect information technology and process controls properly.

"In many cases, systems are not doing what they are supposed to be doing, which is to have completed a risk assessment of their vulnerabilities that includes cybersecurity and to make sure that plan is available and informing the way they do business," stated Janet McCabe, the EPA deputy administrator.

EPA stated that cyberattacks can cause serious damage to water systems. These include the destruction of valves and pumps and the alteration of chemical levels to hazardous amounts.

READ MORE: Major US Healthcare Network Forced to Divert Ambulances From Hospitals Amid Cyberattack

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