Jack Walker Published

State Officials Work To Ward Off Water System Cyberattacks

A person's hands are seen typing on a laptop computer.
West Virginia officials are partnering with local water system authorities to bolster cybersecurity protections, following recent reports of hacking.
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West Virginia officials are teaming up to bolster cybersecurity for local water and wastewater services.

In December, national security authorities identified an increase in cyberattacks targeting local water systems across the country, prompting calls to strengthen their cyber protections.

In response, officials with the Office of Environmental Health Services (OEHS) — part of the West Virginia Department of Health Bureau of Public Health — are now coordinating cyberattack prevention initiatives with local water systems across the state.

Cyberattacks can disrupt water services, steal consumer data and install dangerous software remotely. In a Tuesday press release, State Health Officer Matthew Christiansen said that the state’s renewed cybersecurity efforts can hamper threats to local water services.

“Water systems can reduce their risk by updating computer equipment regularly, using secure passwords and resetting them regularly, requiring employee training to safeguard against an attack and ensuring clean drinking water is provided to residents,” he said.

OEHS will also work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to spread awareness about the federal agency’s free cybersecurity assessments.

Through these efforts, officials said that they hope to bolster cybersecurity for local water systems across West Virginia.