Atlanta Water head orders security review of computer system after Florida hack


Serious concerns are being raised across the country after a hacker gained control of a Florida city’s water processing plant. The Atlanta City Council took up the issue on Tuesday during their meeting.

The FBI, Secret Service, and various Florida law enforcement agencies are investigating the breach of the Oldsmar’s water system computer last Friday around 8 a.m. It lasted only 5 minutes, but the hacker was able to change the chemical formula to dangerous levels. The hacker pushed the sodium hydroxide mixture to a toxic level — from 100 ppm to 11,100 ppm.

A worker saw the manipulation and changed the chemicals back to normal.

Experts say the biggest threat if it wasn’t caught, would be to the skin.

Tuesday, Atlanta City Council Member Howard Shook asked tough questions of the Atlanta Watershed Management Commissioner Mikita Browning. Shook asked the water chief “what steps will you take to ensure our system is protected?”

Browning assured the city council every step necessary will be taken to protect the city’s water supply. She said she was aware of the intrusion into the Florida city’s computer water system and had already ordered a review of Atlanta’s security status.

A cybersecurity expert, Matthew Dunn, with Raxis, said water facilities have redundant tools to check the water quality before the water reaches your home. The plant in Oldsmar has a similar check.

Florida officials said the water plant’s system was connected to the internet to allow for legitimate, remote use. That system has since been disconnected.

Browning did not comment on if Atlanta’s system ties into the internet or to what degree.

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