White House and EPA issue stark warning on cybersecurity threats at water facilities – Queen City News | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

NORTH CAROLINA (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — In January, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that China’s hackers are laser-focused on American infrastructure in preparation to cause real-world harm to American citizens.

“China’s multipronged assault on our national and economic security make it the defining threat of our generation,” Wray said.

Now, the White House and EPA are warning that foreign hackers are looking to disrupt the water supply.

On Wednesday, White House National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr. was in Fayetteville, spotlighting cybersecurity best practices.

“Everything we do in this great nation of ours is connected to our digital foundation, so it will impact our everyday life,” Coker Jr. said.

The letter to U.S. governors references two recent threats to the nation’s water systems. Iranian military hackers disabled technology at water facilities after someone failed to change the default manufacturer password.

Federal departments and agencies also strongly believe the Chinese state-sponsored cyber group Volt Typhoon is waiting for geopolitical tensions to arise.

“They are pre-positioning their forces to be able to disrupt or destroy the United States military’s ability to mobilize,” Coker Jr. said.

White House National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr. was in Fayetteville Wednesday.

“I think it’s scary,” said Chip Florian, CEO of Ciprian IT in Charlotte. “I can’t even imagine. I couldn’t really imagine what it could really be. That’s something that we really have to protect because we drink it every single day. What do we do? We drink water,” he said.

Florian says all it takes is one employee clicking on the wrong link.

“Employees is everything,” Florian said. “We can change, even the passwords. We can apply the basics and be okay, but, again, employees,” he continued. “The human error; they can click on one opened an email that can really be detrimental. They can sit in your system for weeks and weeks at a time to get to know you, study you, and then pull the trigger and multiple levels,” he said.

That’s why the Biden Administration is asking U.S. governors to ensure the basics of cybersecurity are covered. Drinking water and wastewater systems are an attractive target because they often lack resources and the technical capacity to run adequate cybersecurity. Couple that with the 18,000 cybersecurity jobs that need to be filled in North Carolina alone.

“They have to rely on the local entities, local government, to be able to apply this to everybody else, and be able to train and learn,” Florian said, “because we’re talking about water and it’s one of the most important things that we can’t have compromised.”

Queen City News asked Charlotte Water if Gov. Roy Cooper had contacted them about security at its facility, but they did not answer our specific question.


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