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EPA Warns: Rising Cyberattacks Threaten U.S. Water Systems

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National – (WDNews) Cyberattacks on water utilities are escalating in frequency and severity, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warned Monday. The agency issued an enforcement alert urging immediate action to safeguard the nation’s drinking water.

In inspections over the past year, around 70% of utilities failed to meet federal cybersecurity standards, according to the EPA. Even small water systems need to bolster their defenses against hackers, particularly those from Russia and Iran targeting smaller communities.

Basic security lapses, like not changing default passwords or failing to revoke access for former employees, are common issues. With water utilities heavily reliant on software for operating treatment plants and distribution systems, robust IT and process control security is essential, the EPA emphasized. Cyberattacks can disrupt water treatment, damage infrastructure, and dangerously alter chemical levels.

The enforcement alert underscores the gravity of cyberthreats and signals that the EPA will continue rigorous inspections, with potential civil or criminal penalties for significant security breaches.