Defra sets out cyber security strategy for water sector
The Government has published a cyber security strategy for the water sector, summarising what water and sewerage companies need to do to reduce the risks of cyber attacks.
Published by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the strategy, which focuses on attacks based around computers, computerised systems or networks, is mainly aimed at water and sewerage companies in England.
It says there are “credible cyber threats to UK Critical National Infrastructure, including the water sector,” and that these could lead to “serious consequences, particularly as increased automation and connectivity reduces the scope for standalone or manual operation of the water supply system.”
Recent reviews by government cyber experts have identified significant opportunities for the water sector to operate at a higher level of cyber security maturity.
The water-specific strategy is part of a government-wide response to the cyber threat, which complements the National Cyber Security Strategy (2016). The strategic vision and objectives have incorporated significant contributions from the sector and aim to guide activities across the sector, including water companies and government. It aims to achieve a vision by 2021 of a “secure, effective, and confident water sector, resilient to an ever-evolving cyber threat.”
Key objectives within the strategy include understanding the threats; managing the risk from these threats; managing any incidents that arise in the best way possible; and developing capabilities to increase future resistance and build cyber skills.
The cyber risk reviews identified a number of key areas in which the sector should focus its cyber security activities.
One of these is the architectural design/separation of Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT). The paper says that ideally IT and OT systems or networks should be completely separated to prevent infections in IT systems spreading and impacting processes that could cause physical damage.
It also flags up the cyber risk from third parties, with company networks increasingly accessed by third parties such as equipment suppliers, software suppliers and contractors who require the ability to upload software onto systems, make alterations and plug their equipment into the host network.
The paper says policies need to be in place to manage this risk, for instance by restricting the number of people with external accesses to a network and ensuring that devices plugged in to the host network are not carrying malware.
The full strategy is available to download here.
- Environment Agency calls for action on water efficiency Rivers and wildlife could be left without sufficient water unless action is taken to reduce water use and wastage,... Read More >
- Pollution the 'glaring exception' to sector's success story - Bevan Environment Agency chief executive Sir James Bevan has warned water companies to improve their pollution performance,... Read More >
- Wessex Water's EnTrade appoints Thompson as Managing Director Environmental services company EnTrade has appointed Natural England's Guy Thompson as its new Managing Director. Read More >
- Moving towards maintenance 4.0 Water utilities need to embrace smart asset management technologies but that is only part of the solution, writes Chris... Read More >
- Round table: Taking stock of totex Has total expenditure become enshrined in utilities' practices? A special pan-utility round table held at Utility Week... Read More >
- Round Table: Smart Asset Management for Water Companies Smart asset management is expected to drive significant improvements in water companies' operations, but is the industry... Read More >
- Into the Deep using advanced camera techniques Underwater drones, also known as remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) have proved key to the inspection of... Read More >
- Opinion: Protecting our water assets against cyber threats It's vital that engineers start to lead the conversation on cyber security for operational technology in the water... Read More >