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Security System and Defense Forum

The Rural Water Association of Utah, the Utah Division of the Emergency Management, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/System Security held the first annual System Security and Defense Forum in Salt Lake City, Utah at the Utah State Capitol State Office Building Auditorium on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. 

The attendees were able to explore the vulnerabilities of our public water and wastewater systems for various events such as, but not limited to, cyber-attacks, extreme weather events and other operations interrupting events.

Systems were able to meet professionals from our local team of experts who educated them on these events as well as provided them with contact information and access to resources which will help systems prepare for these events. They also provided attendees with tools to help respond to these events.

While Utah is somewhat isolated from hurricanes and tornados, and is not considered to be the target of major terrorist attacks, there are still many potential vulnerabilities to be aware of and to prepare for. As technology develops and makes our jobs easier, a real side-effect is that those same technologies can create vulnerabilities at our systems. It is increasingly important for us to be aware of these vulnerabilities and to take steps to prepare for them.

The forum brought together the key perspectives of diverse stakeholders to explore methods to assess and prepare for these many potential events and to protect our Utah water and wastewater systems. Sharing research, technology, and our experiences will inform decision making, harmonize policy, and enhance the protection and preparedness of our respective water and wastewater stewardships.

Water and wastewater system personnel throughout the state of Utah attended the forum which began with a session on “Joining and Participating in UTWARN,” presented by the Rural Water Associated of Utah and Utah Water & Wastewater Agency Network. The Utah Division of Drinking Water followed with “Vulnerability Assessments and Emergency Response Programs.” The last morning session, “System Preparation and Response to Extreme Events” was presented by Rural Water Association of Utah was followed by a networking lunch.

In the afternoon, the Utah Division of Emergency Management presented “System and Site Vulnerabilities and the Free Resources Available to Help Mitigate Them.” The US Department of Homeland Security, Region VIII, presentation followed with a session on “The Department of Homeland Security Cyber Security Resources Overview.” The afternoon session concluded the forum with a presentation by the Cyber Intelligence Analyst, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Salt Lake City Cyber Task Force on “Cybercrime and How to Safeguard Your System.”

Thank you to everyone who either attended or spoke at the forum. It was a great day of training and we hope to continue into the future.