Terrorist Attack Thwarted: Florida City Has Water Grid Hacked, Could Have Turned Deadly

Authorities have been made aware of an attempt by hackers to poison the water of Oldsmar, Florida by increasing the level of deadly chemicals, which are used to treat the water, to levels higher than allowable.  The substance, known as sodium hydroxide or lye, is used in the water treatment process to counter the acidity of the water and balance the ph levels.  In a concentrated level, the acid could have caused burns.  Oldsmar is a town of about 15,000 people, in the Tampa area.

From the AP:

The hacker who breached the system at the city of Oldsmar’s water treatment plant on Friday using a remote access program shared by plant workers briefly increased the amount of sodium hydroxide by a factor of one hundred (from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million), Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said during a news conference Monday.

The Sheriff said that the hackers were able to take the levels of “sodium hydroxide up to dangerous levels.”

The attempted attack took place just 12.4 miles from Raymond James Stadium, where the Super Bowl was played just a day later.  It is hard to imagine that the two occurrences are not related, as Oldsmar is home to several hotels and motels, which could have been expected to have additional visitors for the big game.

While local officials were immediately notified of the increase in dangerous chemicals and were able to reverse the action, this attack could have proved deadly.  Officials were clear that the public was never in any imminent danger; it is hard to believe that simply because that hinged upon the water treatment plant officials catching the change in the first place.

According to the AP, additional action has been taken to prevent this from occurring again:

Oldsmar officials have since disabled the remote-access system, and say other safeguards were in place to prevent the increased chemical from getting into the water. Officials warned other city leaders in the region — which was hosting the Super Bowl — about the incident and suggested they check their systems.

Again, if the public was never in any danger, why would it be necessary to check other nearby water systems?

This brings us back to the fact that some actor, whether state-sponsored or not, is taking potentially deadly action against the United States.  I’m not one for foreign wars, but an act like this is deserving of a missile strike should the location or origin not cooperate with turning over those responsible for trial.  This was an act of war.