A hacker has broken into the systems of the water treatment plant of a city in the US state of Florida. He wanted to dangerously lower the acidity there, but that was stopped at the last minute by an employee.
The hacker managed to penetrate the systems of the city of Oldsmar in Florida on Friday. Local media report that the attack was ultimately unsuccessful because an employee noticed it. The hacker entered the water treatment plant’s system, which also supplies drinking water to households. The hacker tried to gradually increase the level of sodium hydroxide in the water. This is added to the water to maintain the acidity of the water, but in large doses it can be harmful or even fatal.
The attacker allegedly increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from the normal 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. An employee discovered the attack when the mouse cursor suddenly started moving. As a result, he was able to undo the raise. If that hadn’t happened, the danger would probably have been minimal. According to the local police, it would take at least 24 hours for the change to actually be implemented and security systems would be in place that had issued warnings.
Technical details about the hack are still missing. According to Wired, it appears that the hacker used TeamViewer to take over a computer on the network. The findings have been confirmed by the local police, but not yet by outside investigators. It is not clear how the hacker managed to take over the computer and how the network was segmented.