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Kansas Grand Jury Indicts Hacker for Tampering With Public Water System

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A federal grand jury indicted 22-year-old Wyatt Travnichek of Ellsworth County, Kansas, on March 31, 2021, over allegations that he tampered with a public water system.

Travnichek was charged with one count of tampering with a public water system and one count of reckless damage to a protected computer during unauthorized access. If convicted, he’ll face up to 25 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

The U.S. District Court of Kansas indictment stated Travnichek “accessed a protected computer without authorization,” then remotely logged on and “performed activities that shut down processes at the facility which affect the facility’s cleaning and disinfecting procedures.”

Kansas

Travnicheck was a former employee of the water district, and part of his role was to monitor its water plant after hours virtually. The water district services more than 1,500 customers in eight Kansas counties.

“By illegally tampering with a public drinking water system, the defendant threatened the safety and health of an entire community,” Lance Ehrig, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Kansas, said in a statement. “EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to upholding the laws designed to protect our drinking water systems from harm or threat of harm. Today’s indictment sends a clear message that individuals who intentionally violate these laws will be vigorously prosecuted.”

The indictment comes a month after another municipal water system was hacked, this time in Florida. Back in February, a hacker tried to poison people by increasing the water’s sodium hydroxide content to harmful levels. No one was reportedly harmed during either attack.

Written by Ebonee Stevenson
Edited by Cathy Milne-Ware

Sources:

Gizmodo: Employee Indicted for Hacking Kansas Water Utility and Trying to Shut Down Key Systems; by Dharna Noor
THE VERGE: Once again, someone tampered with an entire drinking water supply via the internet; by Sean Hollister

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of ’Jason Cerundolo’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of fairshade2000’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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