Feds say man broke into public water system and shut down security processes

Kitchen sink with running water

Federal prosecutors have indicted a Kansas man for allegedly logging into a pc system at a public water system and tampering with the method for cleansing and disinfecting clients’ ingesting water.

An indictment filed in US District Court docket for the District of Kansas stated Wyatt A. Travnichek, 22, of Ellsworth County, Kansas, was an worker from January 2018 to January 2019 on the Ellsworth County Rural Water District No. 1. Also called the Put up Rock Water District, the power serves greater than 1,500 retail clients and 10 wholesale clients in eight Kansas counties. A part of Wyatt’s obligations included remotely logging in to the water district’s laptop system to watch the plant after hours.

Logging in with dangerous intent

In late March 2019, Wednesday’s indictment stated, Put up Rock skilled a distant intrusion to its laptop system that resulted within the shutdown of the power’s processes for guaranteeing water is secure to drink.

“On or about March 27, 2019, within the District of Kansas, the defendant, Wyatt Travnichek, knowingly tampered with a public ingesting water system, specifically the Ellsworth County Rural Water District No. 1,” prosecutors alleged. “To wit: he logged in remotely to Put up Rock Rural Water District’s laptop system and carried out actions that shut down processes on the facility which have an effect on the power’s cleansing and disinfecting procedures with the intention of harming the Ellsworth County Rural Water District No. 1.”

The allegations come seven weeks after authorities in Oldsmar, Florida stated somebody broke into the pc system of a municipal water remedy plant and tried to poison drinking water for the municipality’s roughly 15,000 residents.

The intruder modified the extent of sodium hydroxide within the water to 11,100 components per million, a major enhance from the traditional quantity of 100 ppm. Higher generally known as lye, sodium hydroxide is utilized in small quantities to deal with the acidity of water and to take away metals. At larger ranges, the corrosive is poisonous.

An operator on the water facility rapidly found the change and reversed it. Had the change not been detected, it might have raised the extent of lye to poisonous ranges. Even then, the authorities stated the power had a number of measures in place to forestall the contaminated water from being made out there to residents. Nonetheless, the incident underscored the potential for such intrusions to have deadly penalties.

Sharing passwords

An advisory from officers in Massachusetts later stated that the Oldsmar facility used an unsupported model of Home windows with no firewall and shared the same TeamViewer password amongst its staff. The staff used the distant software program to entry plant controls generally known as a SCADA—quick for “supervisory management and knowledge acquisition”—system.

Wednesday’s indictment didn’t say how Wyatt allegedly gained entry to the Put up Rock facility. His prior place as a facility worker who remotely logged in to the water district’s laptop system regularly leaves open the likelihood that water officers there additionally did not safe credentials by not closing Wyatt’s distant entry account after he left. Nobody on the facility was out there to take questions for this publish.

The indictment expenses Wyatt with one rely of tampering with a public water system and one rely of reckless injury to a protected laptop throughout unauthorized entry. If convicted, he faces a most sentence of 25 years in jail and $500,000 in fines. Makes an attempt to achieve Wyatt for remark weren’t profitable.

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