Hack Exposes Vulnerability Of Cash-Strapped US Water Plants

In this screen shot from a YouTube video posted by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri speaks during a news conference as Oldsmar, Fla., Mayor Eric Seidel, left, listens, Monday, Feb. 8, 2021, in Oldsmar, Fla. Authorities say a hacker gained access to Oldsmar's water treatment plant in an unsuccessful attempt to taint the water supply with a caustic chemical. (Pinellas County Sheriff's Office via AP)

(AP) — A hacker’s botched attempt to poison the water of a small Florida city is raising alarms about just how vulnerable such systems may be to attacks by more sophisticated intruders. Treatment plants are typically cash-strapped and lack the cybersecurity depth of the power grid and nuclear plants. Suspicious incidents are usually chalked up to mechanical or procedural errors. But experts say they occur more often than the public is told and many go unreported to protect reputations, customer trust — and revenues. Officials say the Florida town of Oldsmar was only briefly in jeopardy last week, with safety features likely to have triggered alarms had the hack gone undetected.


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