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Challenges Faced by Water and Wastewater Utilities in Network Security

What are the cybersecurity threats to water and wastewater infrastructure?

Water and wastewater utilities face numerous cybersecurity threats, including ransomware attacks that disrupt services and demand payment, distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that overwhelm systems, and advanced persistent threats (APTs) that target utilities with the intent of stealing sensitive information, disrupting services, or causing physical damage to infrastructure.


Software and hardware vulnerabilities, if not regularly updated and patched, can also leave water and wastewater infrastructure vulnerable to cyberattacks. As the threat landscape evolves and cybercriminals become more sophisticated, water and wastewater utilities must remain vigilant in protecting their systems and data, which is why utility cybersecurity should be a top priority for your operations.

How do data diodes support water and wastewater cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is crucial for water and wastewater utilities because you control the critical pumping, purification, and treatment infrastructure that supports our modern way of life. If any of these systems are disrupted or damaged due to a cyberattack, it could have devastating consequences. Successful attacks could result in data theft, service disruptions, and significant financial losses.

Water and wastewater utilities need access to operational data without exposing themselves to cyberattacks. They also need to meet industry best practices for network segmentation and cyber-informed engineering approaches such as:

 

Fend’s data diodes provide physical cyber security for industrial control systems to safeguard critical infrastructure, protect public safety, and secure sensitive information from cyber threats while allowing access to the critical data that operators need.

Case Study - Data Diode Solution in Action

A large water utility, serving close to two million customers, needed to obtain daily performance data from two large water treatment facilities and send that data to a central location for processing. Because of concerns about cybersecurity, the utility took great care to keep the central information technology (IT) network used by administrative teams physically separated (air-gapped) from the operational technology (OT) network which controlled the plant operations. This separation meant that data had to be transferred using physical media (burning disks) on a daily basis, with a disk hand-carried between networks. This created a drain on resources, as the task required manpower and consumables that added up to a costly process over time. It also led to missed operational savings. Data could be nearly a day old by the time the teams on the IT side of the house received it.

The customer turned to Fend to safely transfer data automatically from the OT network to the IT network using one-way communication diodes. One-way communication diodes physically block 100% of all inbound traffic and require no patches or maintenance, offering the same level of security as an air gap. With diodes installed, the utility was able to send information every few minutes rather than once a day and there was no more need for consumable media. The diodes were configured to “FTP mode,” allowing for one-way transfer of files that contained key information about plant performance. With Fend, this customer gets the information they need quickly, cost effectively, and securely.
 

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Benefits of Using Data Diodes for Water and Wastewater Utilities

For many years, one-way communication diodes (data diodes) were too expensive for water and wastewater utilities to deploy at scale. Now, the same class of technology is affordable enough to put on every pump station and SCADA system, allowing secure real-time access to operational data and analytics. Whether you’re making equipment upgrades, trying to improve operational visibility, or comply with regulations, Fend data diodes add an extra layer of physical security that blocks 100% of all inbound traffic and requires no security patches or maintenance, offering the same level of security as a physical air gap for remote access without the vulnerabilities. 
​Fend’s unidirectional gateway hardware physically protects you from cyberattack. Fend diodes feature:

  • All supported protocols are included with the purchase. No hidden fees or licenses.

  • No need for custom external servers or software.

  • Built from the ground up as a cost-effective solution for monitoring industrial equipment.

  • Made in the USA.

​Fend data diodes come equipped with onboard protocol support for common industrial and IT protocols like Modbus, FTP, and TCP/IP. Setting up a diode is as easy as logging in to the Fend Configuration Tool, selecting your protocols, entering some basic information. It takes minutes!

Wonderware/AVEVA Integration

Looking to use a data diode to segment an ICS network running Wonderware/AVEVA? We can help. Check out our Wonderware/AVEVA integration case study.

Real-time Analytics with Fend Cloud

Learn how a public works department gets secure real-time data on wastewater system performance and alerts via Fend Cloud.

Enhance Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Cybersecurity with Fend's Data Diodes

Water and wastewater utilities rely on Fend's data diode technology for enhanced cyber security. Upgrade your OT systems, meet regulations, and ensure industrial control system protection with Fend data diodes. Enjoy 100% inbound traffic blockage, zero security patches, and maintenance-free operation, providing a secure remote access solution akin to a physical air gap, but without vulnerabilities.

Data Diode Use for Water and Wastewater Infrastructure

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