Speaking in hyperbole intended to grab attention, Senator Angus King (I-Maine) testified to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on Wednesday that he believes the next Pearl Harbor or 9/11 attack on the U.S. will be cyber-related. He sees the U.S. as "facing a vulnerability in all of our systems, but water . . . the most critical and . . . most vulnerable." Following up on the comment, Senator King attributed the water vulnerability to "the dispersed nature of water systems in the country."
Echoing Senator King's concerns, the chief engineer of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission also testified that many of the nation’s water and wastewater systems lack the necessary knowledge and resources to respond to a cyberattack.
In a show of more bipartisanship on the issue of cybersecurity, not only have leaders of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee agreed that action to secure water systems is necessary, members of the committee also expressed confidence that cybersecurity policies would likely be included in the upcoming Water Resources Development Act.
Nixon Peabody’s Cybersecurity and Privacy Team will continue to monitor developments.