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Kansas resident charged with hacking water utility computer system

This week, the US Department of Justice indicted Wyatt Travnichek, a 22-year-old Kansas resident, with hacking into the computer system of a local water utility.

Authorities say Travnichek hacked into the network of Rural Water District 1 in Ellsworth and “performed actions that halted processes at the facility and interfered with the cleaning and disinfection [of water] procedures in order to harm Rural Water District 1 in Ellsworth.”

By illegally tampering with a public drinking water system, the defendant threatened the safety and health of an entire community. 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.said Lance Ehrig, Special Agent in Charge of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Criminal Investigation Division in Kansas.

At the same time, it is known that from January 2018 to January 2019 the indicted hacker worked at this very water utility, after which he quit.

Court documents are silent about whether Travnichek’s attack was successful or whether the hack was noticed in time, but law enforcement officials are confident that his actions endangered the safety and health of the entire local community.

If Travnichek is found guilty, he faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for hacking into a computer system, as well as up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for interfering with a water supply system.

Interestingly, this incident has nothing to do with another similar incident that occurred in February 2021 in the American city of Oldsmar. Then an unknown attacker gained access to the systems of city water treatment plants and changed the chemical composition of the water. Moreover, the cracker did this using TeamViewer on the computer of one of the employees.

Let me also remind you that cybercriminals can hack our reality and provoke the end of the world, as for example in this post: Apocalypse Now: experts presented a new type of cyber-biological attack.

Vladimir Krasnogolovy

Vladimir is a technical specialist who loves giving qualified advices and tips on GridinSoft's products. He's available 24/7 to assist you in any question regarding internet security.

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