Whether it is the security of your connected devices or home computers, activities targeted at businesses, or data breaches on critical state infrastructure such as the hacking of the Florida Water Treatment Facility, cyber attacks in Florida are growing at an alarming rate.
These kinds of attacks are nothing new; however, the calamity is now growing. According to research, over 6 out of 10 Americans have been victims of significant data breaches, and an approximated 90 percent of the logins to e-commerce sites are cyberattacks. This amounts to billions of dollars in losses, not forgetting the loss of trust in organizations, businesses, and the state government.
Cyber Attacks in Florida
Depending on your area of residence, you can be at a high or low risk of cyberattacks targeting you individually, your organization as well as the public infrastructure. And based on the FBI cyberattack analysis, Florida ranks the fourth state in the cyberattack risk index.
Hacking of the Florida Water System
Adding extra pressure to the cybersecurity problems is when a hacker exposed the Florida water system to danger. On February 5, a Florida plant worker witnessed his cursor being dragged across his computer and opening many software functions controlling the water treatment process.
The hacker increased the level of sodium hydroxide to a hundred times than average. Sodium hydroxide, which is the main component in liquid drain cleaners, is used to regulate the acidity of water and eliminate metals from drinking water in treatment facilities. Sodium hydroxide poisoning can result in vomiting, burns, severe pain, and bleeding.
The hacker then left that computer, and the sodium hydroxide levels were quickly adjusted back to normal. However, it is vital to note that even if the systems were exposed to cybercriminals, the general public was never at risk because the water would have been rechecked before being released.
What Could Have Gone Wrong?
Immediately after the incidence, many states went on high alert. But what could have led to this attack?
Poor Password and Outdated Computer Systems
The computer hackers gained access to the workstation operating the TeamViewer software. However, it is not clear how the attackers compromised the software.
The outdated Windows versions and the weak cybersecurity networks allowed the hacker to gain access to the workstation. The plant was using Windows 7 that hasn’t been updated for over a year.
Besides sharing the same password and using Windows 7, which can be compromised, the computers were connected straight to the internet without any form of protection like a firewall.
Many states issued alerts to their water systems, and others offered extra training and concentrated more on cybersecurity in their water treatment facility inspection. Unfortunately, most local governments that run water treatment systems don’t have the money or the staff to enhance their cybersecurity.
Imagine seeing your mouse cursor being dragged across your computer and many processes being opened. According to cybersecurity professionals, this might be the scariest thing; however, critical national infrastructures are being targeted. Electricity, water, transport, and nuclear plants should be probed for weak points every time, not only because of the cyber threats but also because they are running on outdated and susceptible IT systems.