22-year-old Kansas man charged for tampering with a public water system

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US authorities have indicted a 22-year-old Kansas man on a federal charge accusing him of tampering with a public water system.

Wyatt Travnichek, of Ellsworth County, 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 indictment, in March 2019 Travnichek allegedly hacked into the Ellsworth County Rural Water District’s protected computer system and “shut down the processes at the facility which affect the facilities cleaning and disinfecting procedures.”

“By illegally tampering with a public drinking water system, the defendant threatened the safety and health of an entire community,” said Lance Ehrig, the special agent in charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Kansas.

If convicted, Travnichek could face up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for tampering with a public water system and up to five years in federal prison and up to a $250,000 fine for reckless damage to a protected computer during unauthorized access.

The incident is not linked to a February breach involving a water treatment plant in Oldsmar, Florida when hackers compromised the computer system controlling a water treatment facility and remotely changed a setting altering the levels of sodium hydroxide (NaOH) in the water to a dangerous level.

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