A 22-year-old man from the US state of Kansas was charged with unauthorized access to the computer system of a public water facility, endangering the safety and health of residents in the local community.
Wyatt A. Travnichek, 22, of Ellsworth County, Kansas, has been 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 Department of Justice ( DoJ).
“By illegally tampering with a public drinking water system, the defendant threatened the safety and health of an entire community,” said Lance Ehrig, special agent in charge of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Kansas.
“EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to upholding laws designed to protect our drinking water systems from harm or threats of harm. Today’s indictment sends a clear message that individuals who willfully violate these laws will be vigorously prosecuted. “
On March 27, 2019, Travnichek is said to have broken into a protected computer system belonging to the county’s Post-Rock Rural Water District, using it to shut down cleaning and disinfection processes at the facility.
The indictment does not specify whether the attack was successful and how it was detected. If convicted, Travnichek faces up to 25 years in federal prison and a total fine of $ 500,000.
The development comes months after unidentified actors staged an intrusion into a water treatment facility in the state of Florida and changed an environment that dramatically altered sodium hydroxide (NaOH) levels in the water.