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Top officials in the Biden administration have warned state governors of serious cyber threats facing the nation’s water and wastewater systems.

In a letter to US governors, Michael Regan, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Jake Sullivan, White House national security adviser, describe water and wastewater systems as “an attractive target” due to their critical nature and the often limited “resources and technical capacity to adopt rigorous cybersecurity practices.”

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Both Regan and Sullivan said, “Even basic cybersecurity precautions — such as resetting default passwords or updating software to address known vulnerabilities — are not in place and can mean the difference between business as usual and a disruptive cyberattack.” They added that governors must ensure their states’ water systems are identifying vulnerabilities, implementing risk reduction practices, and preparing for potential cyber incidents.

This comes as recent cyberattacks have resulted in US lawmakers continuing to warn about the need to boost cyber defenses for critical US infrastructure. Regan and Sullivan pointed to an incident in which “Cyber actors affiliated with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and China have recently targeted critical US infrastructure, including drinking water systems.”


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