Daring Strategy: How A Hacker Planned To Poison An Entire Township

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Oldsmar: The local administrations in US towns and cities were on high alert after a daring plan was foiled by an alert supervisor recently.

A hacker had devised a sophisticated cyber attack to poison the 15,000-odd residents of Oldsmar, which is 25 km from Tampa, Florida last weekend. He managed to access the system controlling the water treatment plant of Oldsmar and briefly raised the amount of the potentially dangerous sodium hydroxide supply by 100 times than normal.

A worker, who was on duty at the plant, noticed that the system had been accessed remotely, and someone was moving the mouse pointer between various functions for several minutes before increasing the amount of sodium hydroxide.

The employee immediately reversed the sodium hydroxide level.

“The hacker increased the input level from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million before exiting the system. This is obviously a significant and potentially dangerous increase… Luckily, it was caught right away,” the County sheriff said.

Sodium hydroxide has to be added in small amounts in the treatment plant to manage water acidity and eliminate metals from drinking water. If the chemical compound, also known as Iye, is used in large quantity, it can cause burns, irritation and other complications.

Officials have subsequently disabled the remote-access system of the plant and warned administrations of other cities as well.

Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Secret Service and Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office are probing the case. The identity of the hacker is yet to be determined.

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