According to reports, a hacker tried to access the computer system of a water treatment plant in Pinellas, Florida. The hacker was attempting to dramatically increase the amount of sodium hydroxide (lye) in the water, making it poisonous. Lye is used in small amounts to reduce water acidity.
The attempt was caught when a worker at the plant noticed windows opening on the computer screen he was monitoring, and was able to stop the sabotage attempt.
Technicians noticed the chemical levels being subject of unauthorized external manipulation in real time and immediately moved to restore the sodium hydroxide input to its safe, correct levels. The AP detailed based on local reporting: “A plant worker first noticed the unusual activity at around 8 a.m. Friday when someone briefly accessed the system.”
“At about 1:30 p.m., someone accessed it again, took control of the mouse, directed it to the software that controls water treatment and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide,“ the report continued.
The hacker or hackers have yet to be uncovered and apprehended. According to details announced by the county sheriff Bob Gualtieri and featured in Tampa Bay Times:
Someone remotely accessed a computer for the city’s water treatment system and briefly increased the amount of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, by a factor of more than 100, Gualtieri said at a news conference Monday. The chemical is used in small amounts to control the acidity of water but it’s also a corrosive compound commonly found in household cleaning supplies such as liquid drain cleaners.
“This is obviously a significant and potentially dangerous increase,” the Pinellas County sheriff added.
It is uncertain who would want to poison the water supply for a small Florida town of 15,000 people. But the reason could be anything. In December, two women were charged for allegedly trying to sabotage rail lines in Washington State, USA. According to reports, they did it as a protest against pipelines being built in Canada. READ: 2 Leftist Women Arrested On Charges Of Terrorist Attack on a Railroad AND from the Justice Department Pair charged with interfering with safety on railroad tracks