Ex-employee tampered with Kansas water plant, feds say, a sign of online vulnerability

April 11, 2021

Wyatt Travnichek was the person responsible for monitoring the water quality in eight central countries in Kansas. In January 2019, he resigned for unknown reasons.

Two years later, Travnichek is charged with “illegally tampering with a public drinking water system”. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors unveiled a grand jury indictment accusing Travnichek, now 22, of tampering with the Post Rock system. The indictment alleges he logged in remotely with the intent of harming the water district.

Water quality is of utmost importance to every American. So cybersecurity attacks that prevent proper quality water from reaching the homes of citizens is extremely important. Unfortunately such attacks happen somewhat frequently.

In February, the Florida city of Oldsmar, population 15,000, reported a hacker attempted to poison its water supply by remotely accessing its system and changing chemical levels. An employee was able to quickly reverse the hacker’s actions, but the incident triggered a new wave of national concern over water security.

A growing number of high-profile electronic break-ins and attempted hacks of water systems around the country are exposing the vulnerabilities of one of our most basic services — clean water. As water and other critical infrastructure become more plugged into the internet, their security shortcomings are drawing more attention from those who fear hackers and others will seize opportunities to wreak havoc.