A hacker broke into a Florida water treatment plant and ordered it to increase the amount of lye to extremely dangerous levels, officials said Monday.

Plant operators noticed and repaired their systems before anyone was in danger. However, the event highlights the risks of Internet-connected controls for civic infrastructure.

In a press conference on Monday, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said that Friday morning an unknown hacker broke into a program designed to help water treatment companies in Oldsmar, Florida, troubleshoot problems with the computerized parts of their treatment systems. The program in question is intended to enable complete remote access to a plant computer, but only by authorized users.

The system was breached again later that afternoon. A hacker who authorities believe was the same from the start took control of the computer and changed the acceptable level of sodium hydroxide – better known as lye, the main ingredient in many …



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