ATHENA: Cyber resilience of critical infrastructure in the water sector

The water sector is fragile. Digitisation is creating a new, increased risk in operational technology. Risk awareness of digital threats in operational technology is relatively low, while the impact of a cyber-attack on operational technology is potentially immense.

To deal with this fragility, ATHENA was created. ATHENA aims to uptake innovative solutions through co-creation, implementation and embedding of targeted competence upskilling modules.

ATHENA is no abbreviation, but a reference to Athena, one of the twelve most important Gods of Olympus, and the goddess associated with wisdom, craftsmanship and warfare. A suitable name for this cyber resilience project.

Cyber risk training programme

ATHENA’s aim is to create a Europe-wide uniform cyber risk training and awareness programme. The project is creating innovative training methods focused on personnel in operational technology, underpinned by sound scientific methods and principles.

Cooperating with European partners in critical infrastructure, academics and security experts, ATHENA is developing training modules to simulate attacks on critical infrastructure to assess the response.

Through the use of mixed reality, gamification and other innovative teaching methods, a contribution is made to the cyber resilience of the water industry and beyond.

Making Europe cyber resilient

Rijkswaterstaat and its EU partners are contributing to implementing the EU NIS2 directive that aims to boost European and national cyber resilience, for example.

The ATHENA project will largely furnish Rijkswaterstaat with the awareness and training requirements for technicians and management in an environment where people are faced with critical infrastructure in their work.


September 2023 - November 2026


Digital Europe Programme


Rijkswaterstaat, Water Security Management Assessment Research and Technology (W-Smart), Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology, Virtual Rangers, Het Waterschapshuis, De Vlaamse Waterweg, Hochschule Albstadt-Sigmaringen, Hogskolen Ostfold, Talinn University of Technology (Taltech), Netherlands Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Dcypher, Digital Trust Center, Suez Group, Aston University.