Bill proposes cyber standards governing water system

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  • House Republicans introduce a bill to create a governing body for water system cyber standards.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency would work with this entity to develop and enforce cybersecurity requirements for water treatment and wastewater systems.

House Republicans have introduced a new bill called the Water Risk and Resilience Organization Establishment Act, which aims to create a governing body to work alongside the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop and recommend cybersecurity requirements for water treatment and wastewater systems. The proposed legislation comes after a series of digital security incidents involving the water sector, including a breach by the Iran-linked Cyber Av3ngers hacking collective at the end of last year.

The bill would give the EPA administrator the final authority to approve or remand proposed cyber requirements back to the governing body, which would then conduct periodic assessments of covered water systems. The proposed legislation follows feedback from the American Water Works Association, a water industry and lobbying group, which supports the development of a governing body to craft and sustain water system cyber standards.

The Biden administration has been pushing to enhance protections for water treatment facilities against cyber threats, but faced legal pushback when attempting to direct providers to assess cyber defenses during sanitation surveys. The new bill aims to create a public-private collaboration to establish standards and assess risks in order to protect drinking and wastewater from cyberattacks. The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Security Council have also warned states to be alert for Iranian and Chinese cyber threats targeting water sector infrastructure.

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