After alleged Iranian cyberattack, Israel’s Water Authority beefs up defenses

SIGA OT Solutions signs deal to protect water infrastructure; agreement comes as Military Intelligence chief warns Israel under regular assault

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

View of the Eshkol water filtration plant in northern Israel, on April 17, 2007. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
View of the Eshkol water filtration plant in northern Israel, on April 17, 2007. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Israel’s Water Authority hired a cybersecurity company to protect its machinery following an attack on water infrastructure last year that Israel blamed on Iran, the firm said Wednesday.

The company, SIGA OT Solutions, said it signed an agreement with the authority to “to counter cyberthreats to the machinery and equipment that comprise the critical infrastructure,” as well as defend them against ransomware attacks.

Last April, six Water Authority facilities were targeted in the cyberattack in which hackers attempted to increase the amount of chlorine in the water supply to dangerously high levels. The attacks were countered before any damage could be caused. However, the incident raised major concerns about the ability of the Water Authority to protect itself from future cyberattacks.

Before receiving the contract, SIGA tested out its cyber defense system SigaGuard at a number of water installations. According to the firm, the product tracks the underlying electrical signals in the water systems to “detect initial evolvements of anomalies in the process behavior and gains direct visibility into the operational technologies process.”

“Water utilities are at the forefront of global cyberattacks. But utilities have minimal tolerance for a downtime in service, and no utility would agree to a hacker deciding whether its infrastructure will operate or not,” Amir Samoiloff, co-founder and CEO of SIGA, said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the outgoing head of Military Intelligence said Israel is facing constant cyberthreats and will respond to attacks as it does to any other type of aggression.

“Israel is under constant threat in the cyber dimension, and attacks are sometimes carried out against it. We are able to deal with most of the threats through advanced defense capabilities,” Maj. Gen. Tamir Hayman said at a conference at Tel Aviv University.

Hayman said that like in other military theaters, defense alone is not sufficient and “additional steps must be taken to preserve Israel’s [tactical] superiority over our enemies.”

“Those who attack Israel by air, sea, land, or cyber need to understand the risk they are taking,” Hayman declared.

“As seen time and time again, the attacks will be answered accordingly,” he warned.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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