Caught: Hacker increased chemical mix in Florida water district to ‘dangerous’ level

Caught: Hacker increased chemical mix in Florida water district to ‘dangerous’ level

[Ed. – Good thing someone was vigilant and this was interrupted.  Could have killed people.  It sounds like maybe water supply systems should add a level of security that would balk at single-command actions to increase an additive that much. The area is popular for vacation rentals and probably had at least a noticeable influx of Super Bowl fans there this past weekend.]

A hacker gained access to Oldsmar’s water treatment plant, bumping the sodium hydroxide in the water to a “dangerous” level, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.

In a press conference Monday, Gualtieri said his deputies, along with the FBI and U.S. Secret Service, are investigating the breach as it is unclear if it came from within the U.S. or from a foreign actor.

The incident first occurred on Feb. 5 at the city’s water treatment plant when, around 8 a.m., an operator noticed someone had remotely entered the computer system that he was monitoring. …

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Gualtieri says, the hacker did more than just remote in. According to the sheriff, the hacker spent up to five minutes in the system and adjusted the amount of sodium hydroxide in the water from 100 parts per million to 11,100.

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

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