In the immediate aftermath of the high-profile SolarWinds attack, comes the attack on the Oldsmar water treatment facility. This is more directed and focused on a specific and very critical piece of infrastructure. A computer controlling the water treatment system in Oldsmar, Florida, was remotely accessed on Friday. Oldsmar is a suburb 15 miles northwest of Tampa Bay with a population of approximately 15,000 residents.
In the attack on the Oldsmar water treatment facility, the hacker accessed the software system and increased the sodium hydroxide content from 100 parts per million (ppm) to 11.100 ppm. The operator who detected this was able to bring the water content back to normal. There is no immediate danger to people who depend on the plant to drink water.
Sodium hydroxide (NaOH), commonly known as bleach, is the main ingredient in liquid drain cleaners. It is highly corrosive and can cause skin and eye irritation, along with temporary hair loss. Ingesting it can damage the mouth, throat, and stomach and induce vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.
This attack is the most recent incident involving critical infrastructure targets such as water treatment plants, power grids, and other sensitive targets that could cause significant safety hazards. These cyberattacks have increased in scope and sophistication in recent years, and there is concern that it will only get worse, not better.
As a result, there is a growing need for manufacturers and operations managers to protect vulnerable computers, nodes, and other access points (APs) from hackers. These APs, which used to be isolated and disconnected from the Internet, are now part of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which brings together different devices to help them communicate and interact with each other.
SolarWinds may have made the big headlines lately with the cyber attack, but the attack on Oldsmar's water treatment facility highlights how all is susceptible. If the attack went unnoticed or went unnoticed for a long period of time, it could have led to serious problems.