Daily US Times: Officials said that a computer hacker gained access to the water supply system of a city in Florida and tried to pump in a “dangerous poison” amount of a chemical.
The hacker increased the amount of sodium hydroxide (lye) in Oldsmar’s water treatment system, but a worker spotted it and reversed the action.
Sodium hydroxide is used in small amounts to control acidity but a large amount could have caused major problems in the water.
“There’s a bad actor out there,” Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel said.
No arrests have yet been made and it is not known if the hack was done from within the US or outside.
A computer controlling Oldsmar’s water supply treatment system was remotely accessed on Friday.
The Tampa Bay Times reported, a plant operator saw an attempt to access the system in the morning but assumed it was his supervisor.
But another hacking attempt was made early in the afternoon and this time the hacker accessed the treatment software and increased the sodium hydroxide content from 100 parts per million to 11,100 ppm.
The operator immediately reduced sodium hydroxide level to normal.
Sodium hydroxide is the chief ingredient in liquid drain cleaners.
It is very corrosive and can cause irritation to the eyes and skin, along with temporary loss of hair.
Swallowing it can cause damage to the throat, stomach, mouth, and induce vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea.
“I’m not a chemist. But I can tell you what I do know is… if you put that amount of that substance into the drinking water, it’s not a good thing,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said.
You may read: Japanese submarine collides with commercial ship