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Tap water, file

A computer hacker gained access to the water system of a city in Florida and tried to pump in a “dangerous” amount of a chemical, officials say.

The hacker briefly increased the amount of sodium hydroxide (lye) in Oldsmar’s water treatment system, but a worker spotted it and reversed the action.

Lye is used in small amounts to control acidity but a large amount could have caused major problems in the water.

Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel said: “There’s a bad actor out there.”

No arrests have yet been made and it is not known if the hack was done from within the US or outside.

A computer controlling Oldsmar’s water treatment system was remotely accessed on Friday.

A plant operator saw an attempt to access the system in the morning but assumed it was his supervisor, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

But another attempt was made early in the afternoon and this time the hacker accessed the treatment software and increased the sodium hydroxide content from 100 parts per million to 11,100 ppm.

The operator immediately reduced the level to normal.

Source: Tampa Bay Times

Date: February 12th, 2021

Link: https://www.tampabay.com/news/pinellas/2021/02/08/someone-tried-to-poison-oldsmars-water-supply-during-hack-sheriff-says/

Discussion

  1. Why might a hacker do this?
  2. What does it say about the design of controls in the system that it took human intervention to prevent the sodium hydroxide content from being 100 parts per million to being moved to 11,100 ppm ?

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