EPA Announces Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Cybersecurity Initiative for Water Sector

This morning, EPA, in partnership with the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), and the Water Sector Coordinating Council and Water Government Coordinating Council (WSCC/GCC) announced a new cybersecurity Action Plan explicitly focused on improving the cybersecurity of Industrial Control Systems (ICS). The Industrial Control Systems Cyber Security Initiative – Water and Wastewater Sector Action Plan is the latest in a series of progressive steps the Biden Administration has taken to shore up cybersecurity measures in critical infrastructure sectors, per a 2020 National Security Memorandum on Improving Cybersecurity for Critical Infrastructure Control Systems.

The Water and Wastewater Sector Action Plan focuses on promoting and supporting the water sector’s adoption of strategies for the early detection of cyber-threats and allows for the rapid sharing of cyber-threat data across the government to expedite analysis and action.

Actions include:

  • Establishing a task force of water sector leaders.
  • Implementing pilot projects to demonstrate and accelerate the adoption of incident monitoring.
  • Improving information sharing and data analysis.
  • Providing technical support to water systems.

The elephant in the room is the voluntary nature of these efforts, as EPA currently lacks the legal authority to impose cybersecurity measures on water systems. Still, EPA and its federal partners intend to work with the water sector to encourage, incentivize, and assist in the rapid deployment of ICS cybersecurity monitoring technologies. While the initial water sector pilots will focus on larger systems, the Agency hopes this Action Plan will lay the foundation for supporting enhanced ICS cybersecurity across systems of all sizes, ensuring improved cyber-preparedness.

The White House this morning released the following Fact Sheet with additional information:
Fact Sheet: Biden-Harris Administration Expands Public-Private Cybersecurity Partnership to Water Sector | The White House

ASDWA will update this post with additional information as it becomes available.