The White House on Thursday expanded an existing initiative to strengthen the cybersecurity of key critical infrastructure sectors, adding the water sector to the list to better secure against attacks on technologies that control the operational processes at water utilities nationwide.

The Biden administration last year kicked-off the Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Cybersecurity Initiative with the electric and natural gas subsectors, working with owners and operators in these spaces to improve situational awareness of cyber threats in real-time and to share information about these threats.

Under the expanded effort, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will work with the water sector by inviting them to participate in a pilot program to monitor their ICS and share threat information. The two agencies, along with the Water Sector Coordinating Council, will also work together to reach out to the entire sector to enhance cybersecurity monitoring.

A White House fact sheet highlights that through the ICS effort with the electric and natural gas subsectors more than 150 electricity utilities serving over 90 million residential customers and multiple gas pipelines have deployed or are deploying more cybersecurity technologies.

The initial focus in the water sector will be aimed at utilities serving the largest populations and have the highest consequence systems, which is where a successful cyber attack could do the most damage. Ultimately, the initiative is aimed at water systems across the country.