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Info@NationalCyberSecurity

Delaware County water companies confident in cybersecurity | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware


The walking bridge to the pump station at Springton Reservoir in Upper Providence. The ability to protect water supplies and other infrastructure has come to the front burner in the wake of a water company hack in western Pennsylvania.

In light of a cyberattack on a water system in western Pennsylvania, systems that serve Delaware County customers shared measures they have in place.

This week, U.S. Sens. Bob Casey and John Fetterman and U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio, D-17, asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate how hackers breached a water authority in Aliquippa, Beaver County.

No customers lost water in the attack against the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa, outside of Pittsburgh. However, a device that controls water levels in tanks was disabled.

According to reports, the hackers identified themselves as Cyber Avengers and they were targeting equipment made in Israel. There is also more recent information that there have been other cyberattacks on other infrastructure.

Here in Delaware County, water systems have protocol in place to try to avoid such an incident as much as possible.

The Chester Water Authority serves 42,000 customers representing 200,000 people in Chester, western Delaware County and southern Chester County over a 656-mile pipeline system.

The Octoraro Reservoir on the border of Chester and Lancaster counties, from which the Chester Water Authority draws its sparkling water. Selling the water authority is among the possibilities Chester's receiver suggests to ease the city's financial woes.

MEDIANEWS GROUP FILE PHOTO

The Octoraro Reservoir on Chester-Lancaster counties line, from which the Chester Water Authority draws its sparkling water. The utility says is “has been proactively strengthening its cybersecurity posture.”

It began in 1866 with 67 customers who needed only 800,000 gallons of water each day. Now, the CWA has a storage capacity of 106 million gallons, which is a three-day supply.

Noel Brandon, chairperson of the CWA board, issued a statement following the Aliquippa incident.

“Chester Water Authority has been made aware of the recent cyberattack on the Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa via various news feeds,” it read. “This incident serves as a stark reminder of the ever-present threat of cyberattacks, impacting individuals, large corporations, government agencies, and critical infrastructure like utilities locally, domestically and abroad.”

The statement addressed what actions the authority has been taking.

“While the (Municipal Water Authority of Aliquippa) attack is extremely concerning, it’s crucial to recognize that (Chester Water Authority) has been proactively strengthening its cybersecurity posture,” it read. “We are committed to deterring and mitigating cyber threats through a multi-layered approach.

“Experts say that no cybersecurity system is 100% impenetrable, however, CWA is unwavering in its commitment to protecting our systems, operations and data in the best way we can,” the statement continued. “We will continue to diligently invest in cybersecurity measures and adapt our strategies to address the ever-changing technology and threat landscape.”

Headquarters of the Chester Water Authority. 
Chester Water Authority officials reassured customers of efforts being made on their behalf.

Chester Water Authority officials reassured customers of efforts being made on their behalf.

“In addition to the efforts noted above, CWA also actively works to stay up to date with industry initiatives to enhance the overall cybersecurity posture of the nation’s critical infrastructure sector,” the statement said, concluding, “We want to assure the more than 200,000 residents in our service area that CWA remains vigilant in the face of cyber threats and works diligently year over year to enhance our ability to protect our operations and data to ensure the reliability of water delivery to our service area.”

Also serving parts of Delaware County is Aqua Pennsylvania, now an affiliate of Essential Utilities. In Pennsylvania, the company provides water and wastewater services to 1.5 million people in 32 counties, including Delaware County.

The system has more than 5,900 miles of sewer mains with 451,000 water connections, 61,000 wastewater connections, 113 public water systems, 11 water treatment facilities and 40 wastewater treatment facilities.

Aqua
Aqua says cybersecurity is a top priority.

In 2019, Aqua employees joined members of the Pennsylvania National Guard cyberteam, as well as representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Chester County Emergency Management, and Schuylkill Township police in participating in a tabletop exercise that involved a cyberattack that targeted water, gas and electric utilities.

It’s an exercise that Aqua conducts on a periodic basis.

“In today’s digital age, our corporate data and infrastructure are more valuable than ever — making cybersecurity a top priority Essential,” Aqua Pennsylvania officials said through a statement Friday. “Our company-wide vigilance and commitment to cybersecurity are vital in protecting our assets and customers.”

This file photo shows a crew from Aqua Pennsylvania working in 2019 to replace aging cast iron pipes.

MediaNews Goup File Photo

An Aqua crew working in 2019 to replace aging cast iron pipes. “Our company-wide vigilance and commitment to cybersecurity are vital in protecting our assets and customers,” the utility said.

They, too, spoke about their resources dedicated to security.

“We have a dedicated team of professionals focused on the resilience of our operational environment, implementing robust security practices to shield our corporate data,” their statement said. “We will continue enhancing these safeguards as protective cybersecurity technologies evolve. We’re focused on providing all Essential Utilities employees with tools, best practices and educational resources emphasizing the importance of safeguarding our company’s assets.

“With these tools and technologies, we will continue to protect our Delaware County community, including our current and future customers, like DELCORA (Delaware County Regional Water Quality Control Authority),” the statement concluded.

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