Hackers successfully infiltrated the computer system controlling a water treatment facility in the U.S. state of Florida and remotely changed a setting that drastically altered the levels of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) in the water.
During a press conference held yesterday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said an operator managed to catch the manipulation in real-time and restored the concentration levels to undo the damage.
“At no time was there a significant effect on the water being treated, and more importantly the public was never in danger,” Sheriff Gualtieri said in a statement.
The water treatment facility, which is located in the city of Oldsmar and serves about 15,000 residents, is said to have been breached for approximately 3 to 5 minutes by unknown suspects on February 5, with the remote access occurring twice at 8:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
The attacker briefly increased the amount of sodium hydroxide from 100 parts-per-million to 11,100 parts-per-million using a system that allows for remote access via TeamViewer, a tool that lets users monitor and troubleshoot any system problems from other locations.
images from Hacker News