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US Government agencies release new Cyber Incident Response Guide for water and wastewater systems sector

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have published a new guide for cyber incident response in the water and wastewater sector.

The Guide has been produced to assist owners and operators in the Water and Wastewater Systems (WWS) Sector with best practices for cyber incident response and information about federal roles, resources and responsibilities for each stage of the response lifecycle.

Developed in collaboration with over 25 WWS Sector industry, nonprofit, and state/local government partners, the resource covers the four stages of the incident response lifecycle:

  • Preparation: WWS Sector organizations should have an incident response plan in place, implement available services and resources to raise their cyber baseline, and engage with the WWS Sector cyber community.
  • Detection and analysis: Accurate and timely reporting and rapid collective analysis are essential to understand the full scope and impact of a cyber incident. The guidance provides information on validating an incident, reporting levels, and available technical analysis and support.
  • Containment, eradication, and recovery: While WWS Sector utilities are conducting their incident response plan, federal partners are focusing on coordinated messaging and information sharing, and remediation and mitigation assistance.
  • Post-incident activities. Evidence retention, using collected incident data, and lessons learned are the overarching elements for a proper analysis of both the incident and how responders handled it.

Water and Wastewater Systems sector under constant threat from malicious cyber actors”

Launching the new Guide, CISA Executive Assistant Director for Cybersecurity, Eric Goldstein commented:

The Water and Wastewater Systems sector is under constant threat from malicious cyber actors. This timely and actionable guidance reflects an outstanding partnership between industry, nonprofit, and government partners that came together with EPA, FBI and CISA to support this essential sector. We encourage every WWS entity to review this joint guide and implement its recommended actions.”

In the new year, CISA will continue to focus on taking every action possible to support ‘target-rich, cyber-poor’ entities like WWS utilities by providing actionable resources and encouraging all organizations to report cyber incidents. Our regional team members across the country will continue to engage with WWS partners to provide access to CISA’s voluntary services, such as enrollment in our Vulnerability Scanning, and serve as a resource for continued improvement.”

Assistant Director Bryan Vorndran of the FBI’s Cyber Division commented:

“The Water and Wastewater Systems Sector is a vital part of our critical infrastructure, and the FBI will continue to combat cyber actors who threaten it.

A key part of our cyber strategy is building strong partnerships and sharing threat information with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure before they are hit with an attack.”

All WWS utilities are being encouraged to use the incident response guide to augment their incident response planning and collaboration with federal partners and the WWS before, during, and following a cyber incident. CISA said familiarity with the guide will better prepare WWS utilities to respond to — and recover from — a cyber incident.

EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, Radhika Fox added:

Cyber threats to the water sector represent a real and urgent risk to safe drinking water and wastewater services that our nation relies on. The incident response guide assists utilities with approaches for collaboration with federal entities on lowering cyber risk in our nation’s drinking water and wastewater systems.

EPA is committed to working with our federal, state, and water sector partners to increase the sector’s resilience and improve cyber-resilience practices.”

Partners that contributed to the guide include:

American Water

  • Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA)
  • Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI)
  • Cyber Readiness Institute (CRI)
  • Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis
  • Google/Mandiant
  • International Society of Automation (ISA)
  • Microsoft
  • Water Environment Federation
  • Water Information Sharing and Analysis Center (WaterISAC)

Click here to download the Guide




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