A hacker accessed the computer system at the Oldsmar, Fla., water treatment facility and attempted to poison the drinking water.
A plant operator at a water treatment facility in Oldsmar, Fla., noticed his mouse dash around his screen. For three to five minutes, police said, he tracked the arrow as it clicked open one software function after another until it finally landed on the controls to the water’s levels of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye.
Then, he watched the hacker who’d taken control of the system raise the levels of sodium hydroxide by more than 100 fold, according to police — a hazardous level that could sicken residents and corrode pipes.
The operator was able to quickly fix the levels moments after the hack, police said.
“At no time was there a significant adverse effect on the water being treated,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Monday at a news conference.
This incident was the latest alarming sign that critical infrastructure in the United States is vulnerable to cyberattacks.
In a tweet, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said he was asking the FBI to “provide all assistance necessary” in the investigation into the Oldsmar attack. “This should be treated as a matter of national security,” he wrote.