Hacking into Public Watering Systems

A 22-year-old man, Wyatt A. Travnichek from the U.S. state of Kansas has been accused on charges that he unauthorizedly accessed a public water facility’s computer system, jeopardizing the residents’ safety and health in the local community.

“Kansas is charged with one count of tampering with a public water system and one count of reckless damage to a protected computer during unauthorized access”, according to the DOJ.

“Our office is committed to maintaining and improving its partnership with the state of Kansas in the administration and implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard.

“Drinking water that is considered safe is essential to the protection of the public’s health.”

Hacking into Public Watering Systems

The indictment alleges that on or about March 27, 2019, in the District of Kansas, Travnichek knowingly accessed the Ellsworth County Rural Water District’s protected computer system without authorization.

During this unauthorized access, it is alleged Travnichek performed activities that shut down the processes at the facility which affect the facilities cleaning and disinfecting procedures to harm the Ellsworth Rural Water District No. 1, also known as Post Rock Rural Water District.

Lance Ehrig, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Kansas say “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.”

Penalties

The indictment doesn’t specify if the attack was successful and how it was detected. If found guilty, Travnichek faces up to 25 years in federal prison and a total fine of $500,000.

Tampering with a Public Water System:

Up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000.

Reckless Damage to a Protected Computer During Unauthorized Access:

Up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. The report says, The Environmental Protection Agency, Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Christine E. Kenney is prosecuting the case.

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