WASHINGTON (WFLA) — During her daily news conference Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the water system hack that took place in Oldsmar, Florida last week.
A computer hacker was able to successfully alter the levels of chemicals in Oldsmar’s water supply on Friday to “potentially damaging” levels, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri announced on Monday.
Gualtieri said the hacker increased the sodium hydroxide levels in the city’s water from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million. The hacker’s actions were immediately reversed by an alert operator, but even if they weren’t, Gualtieri said there are redundancies in place that would’ve caught the change before water got out to consumers.
But even with the redundancies in place to catch hacks like these, it should still serve as a wake up call for other local governments to make sure their systems are secure, a Tampa Bay cybersecurity expert said.
“This is something that shouldn’t be understated or underplayed,” Dr. Ron Sanders said. “I’ve done a lot of work with the state’s local governments. And they are really on the defensive when it comes to cybersecurity.”
A reporter questioned White House Press Sec. Jen Psaki about the incident during her Tuesday news conference. Psaki said cybersecurity remains a main focus of the Biden Administration.
“As was announced earlier today, the FBI and Secret Service are undergoing an investigation,” she said. “That’s something we’d certainly defer to them on their specific findings of that investigation. I will say broadly speaking that the president, the vice president and members of our national security team are focused on elevating cybersecurity as a threat that has only increased over the past several years. That’s why they’ve made it an across-government focus and why he has elevated positions in the White House and other parts of our government.”