As per a report by the Tampa Bay Times, hackers got access to computers controlling the chemical levels of the water treatment facility and increased the level of Sodium Hydroxide. Thankfully, an alert supervisor was able to track the sudden change and revert the changes made from outside.
Sodium Hydroxide is used to maintain the acidity level of water. It is the same compound used in bathroom and kitchen cleaning solutions. In excess, Sodium Hydroxide can cause irreparable harm to the human body.
No person was injured due to the incident and other cities in the US are on high alert. Earlier, a water utility facility was targeted by Russian hackers in November 2020 in Illinois.
Explaining the breach, the Tampa Bay Times reported, “A plant operator was monitoring the system at about 8 a.m. Friday and noticed that someone briefly accessed it. He didn’t find this unusual, Gualtieri said, because his supervisor remotely accessed the system regularly.”
But what led to the suspicion was the sudden increase in sodium hydroxide levels later that day. “At about 1:30 p.m. the same day, Gualtieri said, someone accessed the system again. This time, he said, the operator watched as someone took control of the mouse, directed it to the software that controls water treatment, worked inside it for three to five minutes and increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million,” the report added.