Local and federal authorities say a hacker gained access to a Florida city’s water treatment plant in an unsuccessful attempt to fill the water supply with a potentially harmful chemical.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Monday that someone was able to remotely access a computer for the city of Oldsmar’s water treatment system and briefly increase the amount of sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, by a factor of more than 100, Gualtieri said at a news conference Monday.
The chemical is used in small amounts to control the acidity of water but it’s also a corrosive compound commonly found in household cleaning supplies such as liquid drain cleaners.
The sheriff said a supervisor saw the chemical being tampered with and was able to intervene and reverse it.
Investigators said it wasn’t immediately clear where the attack came from.
As Reuters’ Chris Bing points out, multiple local government officials says that hackers were “very close to poisoning an entire town by breaching a water treatment facility.”