Security Is Not A Sometimes Thing

The DHS Water Sector Security Liaison reminds all of us to incorporate security considerations into our daily work.  Such proactive efforts have impacts that range far beyond the terrorism and/or natural disaster scenarios.  Please read on for some examples.

Precautionary Boil Order Issued:  Authorities in southern Illinois said two teenagers were arrested for allegedly climbing a water tower March 16. The Johnston City police chief said officers received a call around 11:45 p.m. with a report of a man on the tower. After authorities arrived and tried to get the teenagers down, a large glass alcohol bottle was thrown from the top of the tower. Authorities said emergency responders went up the tower and retrieved both teenagers with harnesses. Charges are pending.  Officials in Johnston City issued a precautionary boil order after the incident since there was a possible breach of the water tank.

It’s possible that if the water system had installed physical security barriers, the tower would not have been accessible; there would not have been any question of a tank breach; and a boil order could have been avoided.

Cyber Attacks Come from Many Directions:  Malware that does not create any files on the affected systems was installed onto the computers of visitors to electronic news sites in Russia in a drive-by download attack, according to Kaspersky Lab. The attack code loaded an exploit for a known Java vulnerability, but was not hosted on the affected Web sites themselves. Instead, it was served to their visitors through banners displayed by a third-party advertising service.  The malicious DLL loaded into memory acted as a bot, sending data to and receiving instructions from a command and control server over HTTP.

Does your organization have an effective cyber security program that is exercised and updated on a regular basis?  If not, something as simple as viewing a webpage could compromise your system.  Water systems should check the US-CERT website routinely for information on the latest issues in cyber security.  States should also check the site to be properly informed about issues that may affect their water systems.



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