The Water Information Summit XVI (WIS-16) will focus on Cybersecurity for Water Security. This event is co-organized by the Water Web Consortium (WWCo), the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Security in the Institute of Environment at Florida International University (FIU, USA), the Escuela Politecnica del Litoral (ESPOL, Ecuador), the Organization of American States (OAS), and the UNESCO Hydrological Intergovernmental Program (UNESCO-IHP).
The number of cyberattacks has increased in the past years, in particular since early 2020 with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the fact that the majority of the attacks have been directed to financial institutions, service provider entities, such as water utilities and other water-related institutions, are being targeted with increasing frequency.
In this context, it is important for the water sector to understand the vulnerabilities of its information and communication systems and the need to incorporate cybersecurity measures in their strategic and operational planning.
Recent cybersecurity breaches have demonstrated that unauthorized incursions into the water sector’s computerized systems can affect not just their information and data banks, but also their operational processes, equipment, and infrastructure. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address the issue of how do cyberattacks affect water security. Since its inception, the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Water Security at the Institute of the Environment in FIU, together with its partners, such as the Water Web Consortium (WWCo), The UNESCO Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (UNESCO-IHP), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral (ESPOL), and others, has been looking into the present and potential future impacts of cybersecurity breaches in the sector. The study of various cyberattacks aimed at the water sector are showing that these incidents can influence water security at different levels.
The presentations and discussions at the upcoming Water Information Summit XVI (WIS-16) aim to answer the question is “Cybersecurity, an Integral Part of Water Security?” At the event, the present situation and trends of cybersecurity threats to the water sector will be addressed. Testimonials will be provided by the speakers and panelists illustrating observed scenarios, at the local, national, and international levels.
To further expand the discussions, the following themes will be addressed:
- Cybersecurity Policies and Legislation in the Water Sector: The existing cybersecurity policies and regulations at the national level for various countries will be presented. Similarly, panelists will discuss policies and protocols adopted by different institutions (private and public) in the Americas.
- Water Information Systems: Data Quality and Security: Schemes to counteract unlawful intrusions into data and information depositories by hackers will be presented. The speakers will look into the importance of maintaining the quality of data and information, in particular to provide online services, such as early flood warnings or climate/weather variations.
- Monitoring and Expanding Diverse Participation in Cybersecurity in the Water Sector: Despite the progress made by the incursion of women and minorities in most professional’s sectors, the area of cybersecurity will benefit from expanding its base of professional base at the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and water sector levels. Today, in the cybersecurity sector less than 25% of its professionals are women, which is a much lower statistic than what exists for the overall ICT sector.
- Water Security in the Era of Covid-19, providing Secure Information Systems: With the advent of the CoVID-19 pandemic, ICT systems have been more easily targeted by hackers due to the lack of adequate cybersecurity means (software and hardware) available to the majority of those transitioned to working from their homes. In view that many enterprises and government institutions still have part of their workforce operating from their houses, cybersecurity systems need to continue to be upgraded. Issues related to cybersecurity threats and innovative tools available or under development for the water sector.
- Educational Profile of the Water Professionals of the Future: One of the major issues that has been identified is the need to increase capacity-building opportunities related to cybersecurity. Speakers from various universities and organizations will inform on how their respective institutions are developing new formal academic curricula and structuring professional development programs to fill this capacity void.
- Integrating Cybersecurity to Water Security: To attain or sustain Water Security, consideration is being given to guarantee adequate amounts of water of acceptable quality, which allows the sustained development and promotion of both human and ecosystem health. To attain this goal, water resources need be safe-guarded, and the water sector is required to operate safely and counteract cybersecurity attacks. Speakers will discuss how to incorporate cybersecurity into water security strategic and operational planning efforts.
A select group of international speakers will be making presentations on each of the above themes, followed by a discussion with recognized experts in the various topics. Participants will have the opportunity to contribute questions to the speakers and panelists. The event will have available English to Spanish and Spanish to English translation.
The general program agenda can be found below or you can download the full event agenda.
English-Spanish translations are sponsored by:
Interpreter: Ms. Camila Parra
The thematic agenda below is a general overview of the webinar programming. Please continue to check the webpage for any possible updates to the agenda.
* Please note that all times are in the Eastern Time (US) time zone.