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Strategic, Tactical, Operational Protection of water Infrastructure against cyber-physical Threats

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - STOP-IT (Strategic, Tactical, Operational Protection of water Infrastructure against cyber-physical Threats)

Période du rapport: 2020-06-01 au 2021-10-31

Water supply and sanitation infrastructures are essential for our welfare, but vulnerable to several attack types, facilitated by the ever-changing landscapes of the digital world.
Taking proactive steps to prevent, detect and mitigate cyber-physical attacks is mandatory and it has to be achieved through adaptive protocols since cyberattacks will escalate in rate of recurrence and sophistication.
The overall strategic objective of STOP-IT is to make water systems secure and resilient by improving preparedness, awareness and response level to physical, cyber threats, and their combination, while taking into account cascading effects.
Specific technical and scientific objectives of STOP-IT are:
• Raise awareness and cooperation in the water sector on cyber-physical security and facilitate exchange of best practices between stakeholders through the creation of communities of practice (CoP).
• Enhance the ability to identify and test alternative risk treatment options by developing risk identification and mitigation knowledgebases and stress-testing platforms.
• Strengthen current response and recovery capacities and improve preparedness through enhanced event detection and prevention capabilities.
• Ensure wide applicability of security solutions by developing flexible and validated ones for different usage contexts.
• Protect the inhabitants in the vicinity of the CI of the water utility and enhance communication by providing an innovative method for sharing information.
• Enhance the external impact of the project by demonstrating financing and investment options and thus pave the way for new business opportunities.
• Enhance practical knowledge on effective cyber-physical water infrastructure protection through advanced, interactive and hands-on modular training for water system operators.
• Contribute (by clustering with other relevant research communities and international networks) to an open access knowledge base based on (i) results and lessons learnt from the demonstration, (ii) shared knowledge with CoPs and (iii) overarching framework and modular tools.
The H2020 funded project STOP-IT involved 23 partner organizations from across Europe and Israel, including water utilities, industrial partners and R&D organizations. This video gives an overview of what STOP-IT does: https://youtu.be/kG6lekwhmJo
During the four years of collaboration, the STOP-IT consortium has collaborated in different directions: raising awareness about cybersecurity in the water sector, by organizing dedicated thematic CoP; supporting water utilities to systematically protect their systems by addressing cyber-physical security as an integrated approach and by developing technological solutions; and improving the ability to cope with new risks, by building competence through training activities.
The ultimate technological outcome is the STOP-IT platform. The STOP-IT platform is structured in nine modules clustering technological solutions and analysis tools that can be further distinguished in strategic/tactical tools and operational tools. All solutions, for a total of 28 Key Exploitable results, have at least TRL 7 and a business plan as well as a roadmap to market has been developed for each of them.
The strategic/tactical solutions allow the water utilities to increase preparedness by simulating customized scenarios of attacks on water distribution systems. At operational level the analytic platform supports the real-time detection, analysis and visualization of cyber and physical security events. The platform ranks the severity of the alarms, therefore guiding the security analysts in the decision-making process of prioritizing mitigation actions. https://stop-it-project.eu/results-and-downloads/
The introduction of new digital systems and devices in the operation of water systems requires new expertise. To support this, the STOP-IT project has carried out various training and dissemination activities through the establishment of Communities of Practice (CoP).
The STOP-IT training material has been customized for three different end user profiles, which have a distinctive role in the risk management circle of water utilities and thus need a specific set of tailor-made training materials: https://stop-it-project.eu/results-and-downloads/transfer-training-activities/
Throughout the course of the project a large number of dissemination materials were developed and distributed to raise awareness and acceptance of the project and its outcomes. The project website and social media are constantly updated too.
The future perspective, beyond the project, is to establish a WATER ISAC - Information Sharing and Analysis Centers. This initiative is grounded on STOP–IT in collaboration with ENISA and the Empowering EU ISACs Project.
Traditionally, cyber and physical security have been conceived and managed as two separate entities. However, current sophisticated attacks are disrupting both virtual and physical network elements, giving rise to a wide number of complex cyber-physical attacks with potential disastrous consequences. In this line, STOP-IT has advanced beyond the state of the art in several aspects related to the development of a holistic system that provides prevention, detection, response and mitigation of the combination of physical and cyber threats to the water infrastructure of Europe.
STOP-IT has also leveraged on non-technical factors that are relevant to boost the security of the sector: collaboration, competence building, market uptake and communication.
The results of STOP-IT include:
1. The STOP-IT platform, as scalable, adaptable and flexible solution to support strategic/tactical planning, real-time/operational decision making and post-action assessment for the key parts of the water infrastructure.
2. Training material, based on the technological solutions and lessons learnt from the demonstration and designed for different user profiles.
3. Best practice guidelines for practitioners regarding the support and management of the CoPs in the sensitive field of critical infrastructure.
4. A maximised market reach of the solutions developed.
A Societal Impact Assessment of the project has been performed, based on a set of interviews with the involved Frontrunner (FRs) utilities, as well as feedback gathered through the training and stakeholder involvement facilitated through CoPs.
The assessment finds positive impacts along multiple dimensions. The project demonstrated more than 20 different solutions. Looking to the future, the FRs highlighted the usefulness of different technologies, based on their pre-existing systems, capacity and challenges. All found that the holistic risk management approach will have a significant impact on the water sector's capacity to detect, assess and respond to physical and cyber threats, reducing human exposure and thus contributing to the protection of human health and life.
Positive impacts were also identified in terms of learning and collaboration, and in terms of competence and innovation capacity, where improved procurement competence among utilities were emphasized. Increased rationality and accountability in risk management as well as direct reduction of climate gas emissions were associated with some of the solutions.
Above all, STOP-IT has had an impact when it comes to awareness-building and policy dialogue in the EU.
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