The Olympics and Water Infrastructure Reflect the Latest Cybersecurity Concerns [Weekly Cybersecurity Brief]

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Cybersecurity concerns have certainly reached a peak considering the state of impactful attacks and threatening uncertainty of when another may occur. But how do a global-scale event and potential water vulnerabilities heighten such concerns even further? We examine what the Olympics and water safety communicate about cybersecurity affairs.

We begin in Tokyo, where athletes from all over the world have gathered for the Summer Olympics. Unfortunately, with that excitement has also come worries about cybersecurity. As the Washington Post reports, enforcement representatives and cyber experts have alerted that the risk of a digital attack is a high priority during an event such as this. Organizations like the FBI have issued such a warning based on previous Russian hacking campaigns carried out during the past two Olympic games. Their concerns include disruptions such as compromising of athletes’ personal data and taking advantage of tech used for the event in exchange for ransom. Ciaran Martin, former head of the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre, explained that “Some of [Russia’s] most brazen and impactful interventions have come after softer infrastructure.”

However, “softer infrastructure” is not the only worry weighing on the shoulders of cybersecurity. In addition to other cybersecurity related announcements, the Biden administration recently shared that it would convene senior U.S. officials and private sector leaders on Aug. 25 to discuss taking collective action in addressing the nation’s cyber issues. As a spokesperson for the decision stated, “Today more than ever, cybersecurity is an economic security and national security imperative, and both the federal government and the private sector play a critical role.” One of the most pressing matters that the administration has addressed is essential infrastructure. Most notably, considering current events, is the security of pipelines. Recently, the Department of Homeland Security released a requirement for owners and operators of critical pipelines that transport hazardous liquids and natural gas to implement “urgently needed protections against cyber intrusions,” according to reporting from Reuters.

Pipelines are not the only infrastructure sector leading to calls for action though. Lawmakers are communicating their concern for the safety of the country’s water and wastewater treatment systems. Specifically, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), the co-chairman of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), testified to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that “There is an incipient nightmare here, and it involves all sectors of our critical infrastructure, but water I think is probably the most vulnerable because of the dispersed nature of water systems in the country.”  Concern for water infrastructure follows incidents such as the attempted attack on the water supply in Oldsmar, Florida, and the breaching of a water treatment plant in San Francisco. As The Hill reports, part of the worry plaguing this element of infrastructure stems from the lack of resources that water facilities have access to unlike other more regulated industries such as defense and banking.

 

Key Takeaways:

“The Cybersecurity 202: Cyber pros are on the lookout for hacks targeting the Tokyo Olympics” – Joseph Marks, The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/23/cybersecurity-202-cyber-pros-are-lookout-hacks-targeting-tokyo-olympics/

  • Law enforcement representatives and cyber experts have raised concern over the potential risk of a digital attack during the Summer Olympics.
  • Organizations like the FBI have issued such a warning based on previous Russian hacking campaigns carried out during the past two Olympic games.
  • Their concerns include disruptions such as compromising of athletes’ personal data and taking advantage of tech used for the event in exchange for ransom.

“Biden to convene private sector leaders for cybersecurity talks in August” – Andrea Shalal, Reuters

https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-convene-private-sector-leaders-cybersecurity-talks-august-2021-07-21/

  • The Biden administration recently shared that it would convene senior U.S. officials and private sector leaders on Aug. 25 to discuss taking collective action in addressing the nation’s cyber issues.
  • As a spokesperson for the decision stated, “Today more than ever, cybersecurity is an economic security and national security imperative, and both the federal government and the private sector play a critical role.”
  • This decision follows another decision from the Department of Homeland Security to release a requirement for owners and operators of critical pipelines that transport hazardous liquids and natural gas to implement “urgently needed protections against cyber intrusions,” according to reporting from Reuters.

“Officials warn of cybersecurity vulnerabilities in water systems” – Maggie Miller, The Hill

https://thehill.com/policy/equilibrium-sustainability/564189-officials-warn-of-cybersecurity-vulnerabilities-in-water-systems

  • Lawmakers are communicating their concern for the safety of the country’s water and wastewater treatment systems.
  • Specifically, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), the co-chairman of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), testified to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee that “There is an incipient nightmare here, and it involves all sectors of our critical infrastructure, but water I think is probably the most vulnerable because of the dispersed nature of water systems in the country.”  
  • Concern for water infrastructure follows incidents such as the attempted attack on the water supply in Oldsmar, Florida, and the breaching of a water treatment plant in San Francisco.

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