Is our water safe from cyber-attack?

A PUC employee inside the filter room at the Water Treatment Plant.

A recent attempt to attack a water system in Florida was defeated. The FBI and Secret Service are now investigating how the cyber attack happened in the first place.

In short, someone attempted to dramatically increase the flow chemicals to the water system remotely which could have caused significant harm to citizens.

Saultonline reached out to the Sault Ste. Marie PUC and asked how secure our system is. Below are the questions and answers in their entirety.

Is there remote access for our city employees to access the system?

The Public Utilities Commission of the City of Sault Ste. Marie owns the municipality’s water supply and distribution infrastructure. The management, maintenance and operation of the water treatment plant, wells and the approximately 470 km of watermains in the distribution system are carried out by PUC Services Inc, under a long-term contract. The water system is on its own network that can only be accessed by a select few authorized PUC certified licensed employees.

How well is it secured?

Cyber industry best practices are constantly being followed by PUC staff. Employees have no remote access to the system. They must be physically present in one of the rooms to access the equipment.  Our control room is being monitored by staff 24/7.

Has this incident had the city look at water security differently?

PUC staff are regularly reviewing, discussing, and upgrading our safety protocols. We are aware of the Florida incident. We are confident we have all the necessary measures and protocols in place to ensure the security of our water system.

Their is no word as of yet who hacked the water system in Florida, however with these answers, we can be rest assured our system is as secure as it can be.