Protecting Water and Wastewater Utilities Against Cyberattacks

After 2021's ransomware attack on Colonial Pipeline, a trend of cyberattacks targeting companies directly tied to the nation's infrastructure is a growing cause for concern. Government agencies, including the EPA, have kept these threats in focus by creating processes designed to protect organizations in the event of an attack.philipp-katzenberger-iIJrUoeRoCQ-unsplash

As a leader in the water and wastewater engineering space, Shield Engineering continues to actively follow the latest protocols to ensure that our systems and data remain secure. The EPA's cybersecurity incident action checklist delivers a convenient step-by-step guide to handling these digital threats with steps to mitigate threats as soon as possible to avoid data leaks and speed up recovery so that your team can get back to work ASAP. Here are some of the most vital tips for preparing for an attack before the hackers strike:

Identify Mission-Critical IT Systems

Take note of all key components and the way that they function within your organization. The goal after an attack will be to regain control and resume core operations as soon as possible, which requires identifying and protecting the core components and collaborating with the IT managers or technology partners that support this side of your operation.

Know Who to Call

Did you know that the average time to detect and contain a data breach is 287 days? With month-long delays between a breach and the realization, data and access routes may have spread online to the darker corners of the web. As soon as a breach is detected, it's important to have a list of resources at the ready to alert to the breach so that all parties can come together and work toward a resolution. This list may include key stakeholders like executives and leaders within your organization, but should also include the police and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Have an Emergency Response Plan in Place

An Emergency Response Plan, or ERP, is a core part of any cybersecurity strategy. Having a process in place helps address concerns in the correct order to block threats, assess the damage, and pave a path forward. It's important to assess the impact of an attack, not only planning for a response but also creating appropriate company communications and, if necessary, PR statements.

Companywide Cybersecurity Training

Your company's employees are your first line of defense against a cyberattack. While not every employee will be a cybersecurity professional, sharing the telltale signs of an attack and setting expectations for responding during an incident helps fight back against the low-level attacks that can trip up even the largest organizations. Conducting drills and exercises helps put your team in real-world scenarios, assessing their responses and preparedness to keep them at the ready when the real deal strikes.

"I've been hit by a cyberattack - what's next?"

The first step that should be taken is to isolate impacted machines from the rest of the network, limiting the spread of viruses and malware that can branch across your entire network. Then, notify your IT department or technology partner of the breach so that they can begin remediation efforts to isolate the threat, assess the situation, and close the security gap. Once these two steps are completed, start walking through the steps of your ERP and keep your team communicative and connected throughout the entire process.

The U.S. EPA seeks to increase the adoption of security practices and support the nation's infrastructure while keeping recovery costs low and supporting America's businesses. Click here to read more about the EPA's best cybersecurity practices for preventing or recovering from a cyberattack. 

Shield Engineering is proud to partner with a leading technology and cybersecurity partner to provide comprehensive solutions that assess current technologies, identify vulnerabilities, and create a plan to help meet today's regulations. Contact our team today to learn more.


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