A hacker in the US controlled a water supply plant in the city of Florida and tried to add toxic chemicals to the water. Cyber security experts say the threat has increased with the system becoming more computerized and easier via the Internet.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gwaltieri told a press conference on Monday that a hacker tried to increase the amount of sodium hydroxide in the water by hacking Oldsmar City’s water purification system on Friday. The amount of sodium hydroxide was increased from 100 per million to 11100 per million.
Sodium hydroxide is used in small amounts to prevent acidity in water and increasing its quantity can have serious consequences. Incidentally, a supervisor saw the hacker doing so and it was quickly controlled. Gwalatieri said that the lives of the people were not in danger. But at the same time he said that the intruders “took sodium hydroxide to dangerous levels.
Sodium hydroxide can cause skin and eye irritation. The sheriff said the intruder was active for three to five minutes. When they moved out, the plant operator immediately restored the proper chemical mixture. Investigators said it was not immediately clear where the attack occurred – whether the hacker was domestic or foreign. The FBI, Secret Service and the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office are investigating the case.