Oldsmar ‘Cyberattack’ Was Actually Employee Error, Says Former City Manager

Oldsmar ‘Cyberattack’ Was Actually Employee Error, Says Former City Manager

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An alleged 2021 cyberattack on the Oldsmar, Florida, water treatment plant — which sparked global concerns about the security of critical infrastructure — has been revealed as a simple operations error by an employee, according to GCN.

Former Oldsmar City Manager Al Braithwaite told the news organization that the incident was a “non-event” that was resolved in minutes, and that it was simply a case of an employee clicking on the wrong buttons in error before alerting his superiors. Nonetheless, law enforcement and media attention led to a four-month FBI investigation, which ultimately confirmed that employee error was the cause, according to Braithwaite.

The 2021 cyberattack scare in Oldsmar raised concerns about the security of critical infrastructure. Reports indicated that a plant employee witnessed his computer being remotely accessed, leading to adjustments in water treatment protocols and a significant increase in sodium hydroxide levels. The operator quickly rectified the situation and informed a supervisor.

The alleged cyberattack received global attention, with Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and other top officials addressing the incident in press conferences. The FBI and U.S. Secret Service led an investigation, and a joint federal advisory urged water treatment facilities to enhance their security systems. For more details, see the original story at GCN.


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