It’s common these days to come across stories of a retailer who had customer information hacked by cyber thieves, or individuals victimized by online identity theft. While this may feel intrusive, or at the least, a nuisance, retailers and consumers alike have become intensely aware and are implementing practices to protect themselves. But cyber-threats aren’t contained to retailers and their customers. This is also a concern to those responsible for the protection and resiliency of our nation’s critical infrastructure, including utilities.
Last month, several of us from American Water attended and participated in the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ annual conference at which “cyber-threats on critical infrastructure” was a hot topic. So was the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory’s Council’s recent report calling for bold governmental and public- and private-sector action to improve cybersecurity of critical infrastructure assets.
Because of the integration and vast infrastructure networks inherent in modern-day utility systems, protecting them from cyber threats requires extensive collaboration and ongoing implementation of strategies. It’s one of the ways we work to keep life flowing, by prioritizing the protection of facilities, technology systems, and customer and employee information.
We are also investing resources to understand where vulnerabilities lie, as well as how would-be cyber-attackers think and operate. Community by community, utility by utility, we are building a cyber-security “wall” to defend against attack or at the very least ensure the resiliency of our infrastructure should it be compromised.
Earlier this week, American Water President and CEO Susan Story discussed how cyber threats could impact water utilities on CNBC’s Power Lunch.
From an enterprise security team that partners with the Department of Homeland Security on security assessments, to security awareness training for staff and integrating industry-leading cyber controls in all aspects of our technology and more, our focus serves not only to help protect our customers and our county, but to elevate our ability to deliver quality, uninterrupted water service.