Water Utility Hack Could Inspire More Intruders

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The attack on the water treatment system in the small town of Oldsmar, Fla., lacked technical sophistication, showed no insider knowledge of the system, and had all the hallmarks of a hacker joyride through a critical system.

Yet the fact that an unsophisticated attacker compromised a system, changed the chemical mix for treating the water, and could have potentially harmed people will likely have a ripple effect and attract more attackers to test the cybersecurity of municipal water systems, says Padraic O’Reilly, co-founder and chief of product for CyberSaint, an IT risk management firm.

“We don’t care whether it is a joy ride or not because now people know it’s possible,” he says. “It does not matter whether it’s a nation-state, because that is just guessing at this point. But what you are signaling to bad actors is that this is possible and maybe too easy to do.”

Cyberattackers tend to

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