A hacker remotely accessed a Florida city water treatment plant and attempted to increase the chemical level to “dangerous levels” before the cyberattack was thwarted.
According to WTSP-TV, an operator at the City of Oldsmar, Florida water treatment plant spotted unusual activity on February 5 at 8AM. The employee noticed a remote actor was controlling his system, which was used to control the chemicals and other operations of the water treatment plant.
“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,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri explained in a press conference.
The cyber attack was especially dangerous given sodium hydroxide is the main ingredient in liquid drain cleaners and can be toxic to the water supply.
Soon after the nefarious activity was noticed, the operator immediately reduced the chemical levels back to the proper amount. Officials further stated that “at no time was there a significant adverse effect on the water being treated.”
As the investigation continues, administrators have disabled remote access until proper safeguards are in place to prevent the intrusion from happening again.