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Hackers allegedly tried to poison Florida city’s water supply

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A hacker recently tried to poison a Florida city’s water supply, police announced Monday.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said someone remotely accessed a computer system that controls the City of Oldsmar’s water treatment facility on Friday.

The unidentified person increased the amount of sodium hydroxide being distributed into the city’s drinking water to a “dangerous” level, Gualtieri said at a press conference.

The chemical, also known as lye, is used in small amounts to control the water’s acidity — but can be deadly if ingested in large quantities.

A worker at the plant immediately noticed the change and reversed it, the sheriff said.

“The amount of sodium hydroxide that got in was minimal and was reversed quickly,” Gualtieri said.

City officials on Monday stressed that other safeguards in place would have prevented the contaminated water from reaching the town’s 15,000 residents.

Officials said they have also disabled the remote-access system used in the attack.

“At no time was there a significant adverse effect on the water being treated,” the sheriff said. “Importantly, the public was never in danger.”

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri speaking at a press conference on the hack on February 8, 2021.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri speaking at a press conference on the hack on February 8, 2021.

No arrests have been made. It’s unclear where the hack came from or why Oldsmar was targeted, the sheriff said.

The sheriff’s office is investigating with the help of the FBI and the Secret Service, Gualtieri said.

“The important thing is to put everyone on notice,” he said.

With Post wires

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