The city of Montreal to increase protection of its water system against cyber-attacks

The City of Montreal is looking to improve the safety of its potable water systems in order to protect them from potential cyber-attacks. The city’s objective is to assess the vulnerability of the IT systems used in its water installations and to strengthen the resilience of these installations against cyber-attacks.

The installations concerned include the drinking water production and distribution plants and wastewater treatment facilities. The RHEA Group’s Security Assurance business approach was chosen by the City of Montreal to conduct a study aiming to strengthen the safety of these facilities.

Over the past years, organizations have witnessed some of the worst cyber-attacks affecting critical infrastructure. On March 2016 Verizon published in one of its reports an attack on a water plant system serving 2.5 million people. A group of hackers infiltrated the water utility’s control system and changed the levels of chemicals being used to treat tap water.  Valves were activated remotely, causing distribution problems. The same attack also resulted in the exposure of personal information of the utility’s 2.5 million customers.

On March 2016 Verizon published in one of its reports an attack on a water plant system serving 2.5 million people. A group of hackers infiltrated the water utility’s control system and changed the levels of chemicals being used to treat tap water. 

These sorts of incidents are a proof of the challenges of securing critical infrastructure systems, which often rely on outdated or insecure control systems. Cybercrime has become this year’s second most reported economic crime, according to PwC’s Global Economic Crime Survey 2016. Critical infrastructure sectors, from financial services to energy and healthcare, are especially vulnerable to cyber-attacks since they all depend on largely information technology networks.

RHEA Québec Inc., a member of RHEA Group, was awarded the contract to undertake the vulnerability assessment of the City of Montreal’s water service computer systems. RHEA’s security experts in Montreal, Canada, will begin with testing the vulnerability of the water service computer systems, and then propose protective measures to deal with potential threats.

RHEA Group holds over 25 years of experience in the professional engineering services market, working for governmental, institutional and private sector clients. The company’s background and roots are within space, and they have grown and expanded to other fields, including security and crisis management. The RHEA Group employs more than 280 scientist and engineers worldwide.

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