Press Release And A lesson For The Energy Industry: Detectives Investigate Computer Software Intrusion at Oldsmar’s Water Treatment Plant In Florida

Digital Forensics Investigation

Who:
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
Investigative Operations Bureau
-Digital Forensics Unit

City of Oldsmar

What:
Detectives assigned to the Digital Forensics Unit are investigating an unlawful computer software intrusion at the City of Oldsmar’s water treatment plant.

When:
The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the intrusion on Friday, February 5, 2021.

Where:
The intrusion targeted the City of Oldsmar’s computer system at its water treatment plant.

Why/How:
Detectives assigned to the Digital Forensics Unit are investigating an unlawful computer software intrusion at the City of Oldsmar’s water treatment plant.

On Friday, February 5, 2021, the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office was notified by the City of Oldsmar that their computer system had been remotely accessed at 8:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. by an unknown suspect.

According to detectives, the City of Oldsmar’s computer system at the water treatment plant allows for remote access by authorized users to troubleshoot any system problems from other locations.

The initial intrusion at 8:00 a.m. was brief and not cause for concern due to supervisors regularly accessing the system remotely to monitor the system. At 1:30 p.m., a plant operator witnessed a second remote access user opening various functions in the system that control the amount of sodium hydroxide in the water. The operator noted the remote access user raised the levels of sodium hydroxide in the water. The operator immediately reduced the levels to their appropriate amount. The initial investigation revealed that the hacker remotely accessed the treatment plant’s computer for approximately 3 to 5 minutes.

At a press conference held on February 8, 2021, Sheriff Gualtieri stated, “At no time was there a significant effect on the water being treated, and more importantly the public was never in danger.”

The investigation continues.

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