STOP-IT has come to an end, a European Water ISAC is born?

The „Water ISAC information sharing & STOP-IT final event“ took place online last week to present the project achievements, discuss cybersecurity in the water sector and plan the creation of a European Water ISAC (Information Sharing and Analysis Centre).

The first knowledge sharing session started with a brief introduction on how a Water ISAC to share knowledge and competence could be of added value to the European Water sector. This was followed by a brief presentation from the European Commission about the NIS-2 Directive, which aims to enhance the resilience of critical entities, and about the water security plan, by ERNCIP, and how to implement it. In the next part, different water utilities/operators shared their experiences on the topic of water security, how they are currently implementing the NIS Directive and how they prepare for the implementation of the NIS-2 Directive. At the following roundtable discussion on challenges and lessons learnt, the benefits of sharing experiences like this became clear and once again highlighted the benefit an EU Water ISAC could bring.

The second day was about STOP-IT achievements first. The project partners presented their analyses, results and contributions to increase the cyber and physical protection of water critical infrastructure. In particular, cyber security integration and modelling at strategic and tactical level, cyber-physical solutions for real-time detection at operational level, applying machine learning algorithms to build anomaly-based cyber and physical detection systems, empowering informed decision making with an overarching solution for the security of water critical infrastructures and highlights from the demonstration sites were presented.

During the following roundtable discussion, another major success of STOP-IT was pointed out. The project managed to raise awareness about the connection between cyber and physical security and the fact that these systems can’t be viewed as single systems any longer, but need to be viewed as interconnected. The Corona pandemic put a further focus on the vulnerability awareness of the water sector because remote working and the dependency on digital infrastructures opened the door for cyber-attacks and highlighted the need for better protection.

Awareness-raising is not just a technological but also a political and organizational issue and the more awareness and education is available, the more investments and support for cyber-physical protection solutions are going to be available to the water utilities. As one of the STOP-IT frontrunner water utilities pointed out: “Our department of cyber & physical security are now working together, which is a great success of STOP-IT.” Another frontrunner stated that their utility now had a much higher security maturity because of working with and for projects like STOP-IT.

Over the last four years, the STOP-IT project has done a lot in order to make critical water infrastructures safer and there is a great hope that the legacy, tools and materials of STOP-IT now will live on in a new European Water ISAC. First steps in this direction already have been taken.

Organizers of the event:

STOP-IT team, Empowering EU ISACs Project, ENISA and the JRC-ERNCIP Water group

 

Secure and protect your water infrastructures with STOP-IT

In the critical infrastructures of the water sector, cyber and physical elements are more and more interconnected thanks to the ongoing process of digital transformation. The increasing integration brings benefits, but also new challenges, especially from a security perspective. To increase the resilience of the water service, it is demanding to break the siloes separating cyber and physical security and adopt an all-hazards risk management framework able to identify, analyze and evaluate cyber and physical risks, their combination, and their cascading effects.

At the same time, water organizations, as critical entities, have to comply with new directives about security advising to perform risk assessments and take appropriate technical and organizational measures in order to boost resilience. Achieving cybersecurity therefore is an increasingly complex goal, as a direct consequence of the development of technology and the improving sophistication and frequency of cyber-attacks. The goal is even more challenging if barriers, such as lack of awareness and competence gaps, exist.

The European research project STOP-IT attempted to tackle these challenges. During four years of intense research and collaboration, the consortium succeeded in different directions by:

  1. Raising awareness about cybersecurity in the water sector by organizing dedicated thematic communities of practice and with active dissemination work through conferences, publications and materials.
  2. Supporting water utilities to systematically protect their systems by addressing cyber-physical security as an integrated approach.
  3. Improving the ability to cope with new risks by building competence through training activities.
  4. Producing a large number of tools and technologies to protect critical water infrastructure against cyber and physical threats and their combination.

The research results culminate in the STOP-IT platform that combines all STOP-IT tools and therefore supports strategic and tactical planning, real-time operational decision making and post-action assessment for the key parts of the water infrastructure. It includes and combines strategic and tactical decision-making tools, tools to monitor and protect SCADA and IT systems, tools for protection against physical threats, tools to detect cyber-physical anomalies, tools for risk exposure assessment, alert generation and countermeasure proposition, a tool to detect and inform about wireless jamming attacks, a tool for storing and sharing information about cyber threats and attacks across critical infrastructure, a tool for alerting users/citizens about a critical situation and a tool that visualizes information from all modules of the STOP-IT platform.

All modules and tools are integrated, connected to each other and interoperable, therefore ensuring the protection against combined cyber-physical threats and allowing the analysis of cascading effects of physical and cyber events.

Download the latest STOP-IT magazine here.

The STOP-IT platform

Secure your water infrastructures against cyber-physical attacks and threats with the STOP-IT platform, which supports strategic/tactical planning, real time operational decision making and post-action assessment for the key parts of the water infrastructure. The platform is:

  • scalable (scaling from small utilities to large ones)
  • adaptable (including various modules addressing different needs, with expandability for future modules) and
  • flexible (the water utility managers can decide how to use it and it will be usable by experts, novices, and even non-technical staff.

The main added value of the platform is that all modules and tools are integrated, connected to each other and interoperable, therefore ensuring the protection against combined cyber-physical threats and allowing the analysis of cascading effects of physical and cyber events. The platform was validated in an operational environment and all solutions were demonstrated in real environments.

Here you will find a Youtube-Video about the STOP-IT platform.

Factsheet about the platform:

Brochure about the platform:

 

STOP-IT tools validated at Aigües de Barcelona in Spain

The water supply to the population is an essential need that must be preserved and the focus needs to lie on two things: to guarantee the water service and to ensure the quality of the served water. Aigües de Barcelona always seeks for new solutions to perfect the protection of their networks and assets involved. The first step is to know the status of the system and the correlation to water service and quality. Therefore, they were interested in simulation tools from STOP-IT, which could give them a real feeling of what will happen in the network under a real risk event and helped to understand the weaknesses in order to improve the system furthermore.

Tools tested were the Water Quality Sensor Placement tool, the Asset vulnerability Assessment Tool, the InfraRisk-CP, the Risk Analysis and Evaluation Toolkit and the Fault-tolerant Control Strategies for Physical Anomalies affecting the SCADA system. Read about the results here:

 

STOP-IT tools validated at Oslo VAV in Norway

The level of service in water supply systems is guaranteed by the optimal operations of pumps and valves, and by the continuous monitoring of pressure values and frequency of pipe breaks.

Weiterlesen

STOP-IT tools validated at Berliner Wasserbetriebe in Germany

One of the major challenges at Berliner Wasserbetriebe (BWB) in Germany is to improve the resilience and the security of the water supply, taking into regard the close water cycle and the natural (no chemicals and no chlorine) treatment of the drinking water.

Weiterlesen

STOP-IT tools validated at Mekorot in Israel

Mekorot and other water companies often are targets of physical- and/or cyber-attacks. In order to improve their resilience as a water supply company they have applied several STOP-IT tools for testing. Weiterlesen

Mekorot - demonstration activities

Demonstration activities at Mekorot

The STOP-IT tools are demonstrated by our four project frontrunner water utilities (Aigües de Barcelona in Spain, Berliner Wasserbetriebe in Germany, Mekorot in Israel and Oslo VAV in Norway). Weiterlesen

What is the STOP-IT project all about?

What is the STOP-IT project all about? Find out in our interview video. Weiterlesen

Training activities: new skills

Water utilities trained in cyber and physical security

The European research project STOP-IT, which is dealing with the protection of water infrastructures from cyber and physical threats, has now begun with training activities for water utilities.

Weiterlesen