Cybercriminals tried to poison a Florida city by hacking its water treatment system.

Hackers had remotely accessed the water treatment system in the city of Oldsmar in an attempt to increase the levels of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, to a life-threatening amount. According to Pinellas County Sherrif, at least 15,000 people could be in danger, UNILAD reports.

Credits: Pinellas Sherrif

The perpetrators reportedly tried to increase the amount of the additive by more than 100 times its normal level.

Thankfully, the attempt was unsuccessful, and the hackers couldn’t affect the city’s water supply. County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri explained:

“The guy was sitting there monitoring the computer as he’s supposed to and all of a sudden he sees a window pop up that the computer has been accessed. The next thing you know someone is dragging the mouse and clicking around and opening programs and manipulating the system.”

Although no arrests have been made yet, both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Secret Service are investigating the cyberattack.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio stated that the hack should be treated as “a matter of national security.”

Sheriff Gualtieri added:

“This is somebody who is trying, as it appears on the surface, to do something bad. It’s a bad act. It’s a bad actor. This isn’t just ‘Oh, we’re putting a little bit of chlorine or a little bit of fluoride, or a little bit of something,’ we’re basically talking about lye that you are taking from 100 parts per million to 11,100.”

Luckily, the operator was able to immediately reverse the alternations the hackers had made as soon as they were kicked out of the system. The sheriff assured that “the public was never in danger.”

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