Hacker tries to contaminate Florida’s water supply with ‘potentially harmful’ substance

Hacker tries to contaminate Florida’s water supply with ‘potentially harmful’ substance Accessed remotely in a failed a...

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  • Hacker tries to contaminate Florida’s water supply with ‘potentially harmful’ substance
  • Accessed remotely in a failed attempt to contaminate the water
  • The chemical could cause irritation, burns and other complications

A hacker attempted to contaminate Florida’s water supply with ‘potentially harmful’ substance, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri revealed in a Press conference.

The unidentified suspect breached the security system remotely at the water treatment plant in the city of Oldsmar, Florida, last Friday. According to the article, the hacker briefly increased the amount of “sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million.”

Chemical attack?

This chemical, better known as bleach, is used to “treat the acidity of the water.” Additionally, said chemical compound can also be found in cleaning products such as soaps and drain cleaners, notes The Associated Press.

Hacker Florida Water, pollute

PHOTO YouTube Pinellas Sheriff

The effects of the ‘potentially harmful’ substance could “cause irritation, burns and other complications” if given in large amounts.

Florida residents were not at ‘risk’, authorities say

The Sheriff noted that a supervisor noticed the chemical being tampered with and was able to intervene and reverse it. Oldsmar is 15 miles northwest of Tampa, where the Super bowl last Sunday.

The city’s 15,000 residents were not at risk during the attempted attack, authorities revealed. “At no time was there a significant adverse effect on the water that was being treated,” Gualtieri said. “Importantly, the public was never in danger,” he added.

Oldsmar officials disabled remote access as a security measure against the attempted attack. To see the video click here.

Water supply facilities could be ‘easy targets’

According to an expert, facilities such as Oldsmar’s in Florida are “easy” targets since the security infrastructure may lack “sufficient funds,” indicates The Associated Press.

Hacker Florida Water, pollute

PHOTO Shutterstock

“As industries become more digitally connected, we will continue to see more states and criminals turning to these sites for the impact they have on society,” said Robert M. Lee, specialist in industrial control vulnerabilities.

“Systems administrators in charge of major civil infrastructure, such as a water treatment facility, should secure that plant as if they were securing water in their own kitchens,” said Tarah Wheeler, Cybersecurity Fellow for The Associated Press.

Photo: Shutterstock

“Sometimes when people set up local networks, they don’t understand the danger of a series of misconfigured and protected Internet-connected devices. It is not necessarily wrong or unsafe to configure a remote access and monitoring system, ”he added.

Filed Under: Florida Water Hacker

How was the ‘attack’?

An employee at the water supply plant first noticed the “unusual activity” around 8 am Friday.

Photo: Shutterstock

Later, “someone” came back in, took control of the mouse, directed it to the software that controls the water treatment and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide, The Tampa Bay Times reported as quoted by The Associated Press.

Other security measures

According to the news agency, authorities revealed that there are other security measures that were likely able to detect the chemical ‘attack’ before it affected the water supply.

So far, it is not clear where the attack came from. The FBI, the Secret Service and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office are in charge of investigating the ‘attack’ in Florida.

Filed Under: Florida Water Hacker

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