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A hacker tried to poison the water supply in a Florida community that serves 15,000 of us, officials said

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A hacker tried to poison the water supply in a Florida community that serves 15,000 of us, officials said
  • A Florida town of 15,000 of us was the target of a cyberattack at the local water treatment plant.
  • The hacker tried to raise the amount of sodium hydroxide, also identified as lye, in the water by 11,000%.
  • A plant operator noticed the breach and fleet reversed it; now an investigation is underway.

The FBI, US Secret Carrier, and local authorities are investigating the source of a cyberattack that targeted the water supply in a Florida town about 17 miles northwest of Tampa, the Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

The water treatment plot in Oldsmar, a town of appropriate 15,000, was remotely accessed by an unknown individual on February 5. According to Gualtieri, the hacker attempted to change the sodium hydroxide negate material in the plot from 100 to 11,100 parts per million – a 11,000% increase.

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“This is clearly a significant and potentially dangerous increase. Sodium hydroxide, also identified as lye, is the main ingredient in liquid drain cleaners,” Gualtieri said.

Water treatment facilities use sodium hydroxide to counteract extremely-acidic water ranges that usually arrive from regions with excessive amounts of limestone. The chemical is safe in small, controlled amounts nonetheless can result in rashes and burns if extremely concentrated amounts make contact with the skin.

Gualtieri said an operator at the Oldsmar facility acknowledged the safety breach early in the morning when they noticed a far flung user was accessing a part of the water treatment plot. This was no longer fully surprising as supervisors are identified to troubleshoot complications from far flung locations, authorities said.

But around 1: 30 p.m., the operator noticed that the plot was once again being accessed remotely – this time, the employee said they watched the unknown far flung user inaugurate the water treatment software and increase the sodium hydroxide ranges in the plot.

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The employee who witnessed the change immediately reverted the ranges back to normal prior to any damage may neatly be done.

“At no time was there a significant adverse attain on the water being treated,” Gualtieri said. “Importantly, the public was by no means in danger.”
Gualtieri said that if the attack had no longer been noticed, it may have taken 24 to 36 hours for the hacker’s changes to absolutely take attain, nonetheless the sheriff, mayor, and city manager each made a point to say there are protocols in place that would have prevented a catastrophe.

“Even had they no longer caught them, these redundancies have alarms in the techniques that would have caught the change in the pH stage anyway,” said Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel.

As of Monday, investigators had been no longer yet able to name the hacker and enact no longer know if the attack originated in the US.

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A hacker tried to poison the water supply in a Florida community that serves 15,000 of us, officials said