Police: Hacker Breached Florida Treatment Plant to Poison the Water Supply

Police: Hacker Breached Florida Treatment Plant to Poison the Water Supply

Posted February 8, 2021

Police: Hacker Breached Florida Treatment Plant to Poison the Water Supply

  • The intrusion occurred at a water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida, which is home to about 15,000 people, according to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. Last Friday, an operator at the facility noticed some suspicious activity: an unknown user had remotely gained access to a computer system that controls chemical processes at the plant.
  • “The hacker changed the sodium hydroxide from about one hundred parts per million to 11,100 parts per million,” according to Gualtieri, who noted that sodium hydroxide is a main ingredient in liquid drain cleaners. Indeed, the CDC lists it as a highly corrosive substance.
  • The plant itself had “redundancies in place,” such as pH monitoring, ensuring the tainted water would have never reached the main pipelines without detection, according to city officials.
  • According to the county’s sheriff, the hacker gained access via an unnamed remote software program that allows employees to troubleshoot IT problems. The same program also includes some screen-monitoring capabilities. As a result, the operator who first noticed the intrusion initially suspected the remote access belonged to another worker.

– Michael Kan | February 8, 2021