The levels of sodium hydroxide in the hydraulic network in the town of Oldsmar rose sharply at the end of last week, following a malicious intrusion into the plant’s computer system. Ingestion of the chemical used in many household products can be fatal. An investigation is opened to determine the identity of the person responsible.
An investigation was opened after a hacker, still unidentified, tried to poison the city of Oldsmar (Florida) by considerably increasing the amount of sodium hydroxide present in the urban water network. The chemical, used in small doses to correct the acidity of the water, is commonly called “Laundry detergent”Because it is found in the components of many household products.
By remotely accessing the water treatment system, a person briefly took control of the power plant that supplies the businesses of Oldsmar and its 15,000 inhabitants. According to the county sheriff, an employee quickly discovered the hack, preventing “the appearance of an adverse effect on the water”, report it Tampa Bay Times.
“The public has never been in danger”
The local daily reports that a plant operator was monitoring the system around 8 a.m. last Friday when he noticed that someone had briefly accessed it to change some settings. He didn’t find this unusual, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said, as his supervisor regularly accesses the system remotely.
But at 1:30 p.m. the same day, the man saw someone take control of the mouse from a distance and pass the amount of sodium hydroxide “Out of 100 parts by million to 11 100 parts per million ”. After the hacker exited the system, the operator was able to correct the chemical concentration before the remote access system was deactivated.
“The public has never been in danger”, Reassured the sheriff during a press conference before congratulating the reliability of the surveillance system. Despite this announcement, the flaw in the computer system raises questions about the networking of such structures, which are vital for citizens. Because contact with sodium hydroxide can burn the skin or cause hair loss and its “ingestion can be fatal”Recalls the National Center for Biotechnology Information.