Water-Related News

Official says ‘hack’ of Oldsmar city water treatment plant in 2021 didn’t happen

The city manager who served at that time now calls it a "nonevent."

In February 2021, the headlines showed up all over the world — a city in Pinellas County had been the victim of cyberattack, putting 15,000 residents in jeopardy. News organizations like the Pew Trusts said the alleged hacking of the Oldsmar water treatment plant "exposes (the) danger to water systems."

Now, more than two years after, the truth is coming to light — the cyber intrusion apparently never happened.

As the story went, a city employee spotted the increased level of sodium hydroxide (100 times more than normal) at the Oldsmar plant and quickly moved to correct it.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Al Braithwaite, Oldsmar's city manager at the time of the reported breach, told people at an industry gathering last month that it was a "nonevent" which may have been caused by a mistake by the same employee who was called a hero for catching it.

The Times reports that Braithwaite made the comments during a March cybersecurity panel at the American Society for Public Administration's annual conference.

When the alleged attack was first reported, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri dubbed it a "cyberattack" and the FBI and U.S. Secret Service became part of the investigation.

But this week, the FBI told the Times that they had found no evidence of such an attack.