In his testimony in July 2021 to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, co-chairman of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (CSC), Sen. King of Maine warned: “I believe that the next Pearl Harbor, the next 9/11, will be cyber, and we are facing a vulnerability in all of our systems, but water is one of the most critical and I think one of the most vulnerable.”
The testimony follows a number of cyber-attacks perpetrated against water systems across the USA, the most recent of which targeted water systems in the San Francisco Bay Area, followed a few weeks later by an attack in Florida. In the Bay Area attack, a hacker used the username and password of a former employee of the water treatment plant to access the system and interfere with the treatment of drinking water. The attack was only detected the following day. The following month, an er used remote access credential shared between employees to hack into the Oldsmar water treatment facility in Florida, and increase the levels of sodium hydroxide in the water to an extremely dangerous level. Luckily, an employee of the facility detected the attack as it was taking place, when noticing the mouse moving ‘on its own’ on the screen, and stopped it. The targeted water plant is situated within 15 miles of the location of the stadium at which the Super Bowl took place two days later.