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Halifax Water aims to improve cybersecurity after report raises concern

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A recently released IT report called the risk in the areas of disaster recovery planning and infrastructure at Halifax Water “consistent” and “observable”. Photo credit: Gorodenkoff/Adobe Stock

Halifax Water is working to strengthen its cybersecurity after a consultant report found “significant elevated risk” in the areas of disaster recovery planning and infrastructure.

While details about the current state assessment have been redacted by the utility for security reasons, a brief summary of the issues was included in a newly-released report about findings made four years ago by Saint John-based Mariner Innovations as part of a five-year IT strategic plan.

The report called the security risk in the areas of disaster recovery planning and infrastructure “consistent” and “observable”. It stated that Halifax Water will need to establish clearly documented disaster recovery plans and objectives, and that disaster recovery must be incorporated into partner and cloud vendor contracts and service-level agreements (SLAs).

With water systems being such a vital part of public infrastructure, the report states that it is “imperative” that these systems be kept safe and secure. The report also noted that ransomware attacks have made disaster recovery essential and backup systems are one of the most effective responses.

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Additionally, the report stated that the facilities housing the utility’s computing and networking infrastructure represent a moderately elevated level of risk.

In February 2021, Halifax Water issued a request for proposal to overhaul its IT and improve its overall cybersecurity.

“As part of the Cyber Security Program, Halifax Water is implementing a Security Awareness Program to further embed cyber security within the culture of Halifax Water,” a segment of the proposal stated.

In the RFP, Halifax Water said that phishing, social engineering and cyberattacks are some of the greatest threats to a municipality’s information system. “As such, an organization’s cyber security strategy is only as effective as its people’s ability to manage these types of threats,” the utility’s officials stated.

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