Florida Man Fridays aren’t a fixture on our blog for nothing. In recent news over the weekend, a hacker had gained access into the water treatment system of Oldsmar, Florida. During this break into the system, the hacker had tried to increase the levels of sodium hydroxide (commonly known as lye) in attempt to poison thousands.
The hacking event took place on Friday, February 5th. It was during this time an operator had noticed the system breach and observed the hacker gain access remotely. The hacker modified the levels of the sodium hydroxide to 100 times (about 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million) its normal levels, according to Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri.
Acting quickly, the operator immediately decreased the levels back to normal. Luckily, this action counteracted any significant effects that would have taken place to the city’s water supply.
There are trace amounts of the sodium hydroxide already present in some drinking water supplies. This is done in order to prevent corrosion of the pipes and increase pH levels in the water. In smaller batches, the chemical can cause severe skin burns and damage to the eyes. If the breach had occurred and carried out as planned, the results would have been disastrous.
The whereabouts of the breach are still unknown and naturally raises serious questions about the efficiency of our cyber security.
Currently the County Sheriff’s office has started their own criminal investigation along with the FBI.