Florida Water Utility Hack Highlights Risks to Critical Infrastructure
Last Friday, a hacker attempted to poison the town of Oldsmar, Florida’s water supply by increasing the percentage of lye by a factor of 111 through remotely accessing the town’s water treatment location. An operator quickly caught the mistake and reversed the potentially deadly changes, alerting law enforcement. Although an FBI and Secret Service investigation is still ongoing, the incident underscores the importance of maintaining best cybersecurity practices to protect critical infrastructure and citizens.
The water treatment plant supplies Oldsmar, a town of 15,000 people, with clean and safe drinking water. The lye concentration could have had deadly effects on Oldsmar residents who consumed it. The event shows how critical infrastructure across the country experiences high-risk cybersecurity threats that must be addressed. Infrastructure managers should be working to ensure that all potential cyber threats have been mitigated through pre-emptive cybersecurity measures, according to security professionals. However, this time, success was unlikely, according to Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. The Sheriff stated that even if the operator had not noticed the mistake, other employees testing the water before it was transported to residents would have.