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Former Israeli Air Force captain Ariel Stern warns that the US and Israel are currently unprepared to counter a cyber attack on the water industry that may be planned by adversaries such as Iran.

He warned about the dangers for providers of critical infrastructure after a ransomware attack in August shut down the IT systems of South Staffordshire Water, a UK company that supplies 1.6 million people with drinking water every day.

Stern noted that countries such as Russia, Iran, North Korea, and China are capable of causing severe damage to the water industry.

He flagged that the main adversary in this sphere for Israel is Iran, but cautioned that even after past cyber attacks on Israel’s and America’s water sector in recent years, “we don’t have top minds in the water industry. (…) Most water sector workers are civil engineers. How can they ignore it [cyber dangers]? They are very sophisticated within their domain relating to pipes, water flows, ground stabilization and chemistry,” but not with regard to blocking hackers.


Lack of Training and Precautions

A lack of sufficient training for cyber protection is one of the industry’s most significant issues. A cyber attack against a water facility or an organization in the water sector might have huge consequences because many infrastructures handle large areas, including numerous cities and states.

USA Water Plants are not ready for cyberattacks


According to Security Affairs, in many instances, IT and OT networks are not separated and are not built to withstand cyberattacks. Stern noted that the United States has 55,000 separate water providers, but the vast majority of the population is only served by a handful of operators – who are vulnerable to cyber attacks. He insists that these institutions take all essential precautions immediately.

He also added that the United States government is stalling the implementation of a universal cybersecurity standard. As a result, many industrial water organizations continue to rely on low-quality systems.

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Madalina Popovici

Digital PR Specialist

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Madalina, a seasoned digital content creator at Heimdal®, blends her passion for cybersecurity with an 8-year background in PR & CSR consultancy. Skilled in making complex cyber topics accessible, she bridges the gap between cyber experts and the wider audience with finesse.

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