A safe water supply and effective wastewater management are crucial elements of modern economies. To better manage growing demand, water authorities worldwide invest heavily in automation and computerization for water purification, wastewater management, desalination, storage and delivery.
Increased connectivity within the water sector has led to an increase in cyber security and OT vulnerabilities in water facilities and utilities plants. With potential impacts ranging from overflowing dams to water contamination, to the ultimate failure: loss of human life, water operations require real-time visibility to ensure there are no cybersecurity threats or process malfunctions, with a zero-downtime tolerance policy.
Because of this, maintaining real-time situational awareness and operational reliability and the ability to independently detect any operations anomaly is of utmost importance. It gives operators the chance to visualize the most authentic, real-time, real-life situation of the infrastructure – whether someone is trying to create a cyber attack or machines are nearing failure – to protect the critical assets and the communities they serve.
In 2016, hackers breached a regional United States water utility, taking control of hundreds of programmable logic controllers (PLC’s) that governed the flow of water treatment chemicals and endangering thousands of lives. This incident, among others, led to the U.S. Water Infrastructure Act of 2018, highlighting the inherent vulnerability of critical water infrastructure worldwide.