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Kansas Man Charged with Tampering with Public Water System

The United States Department of Justice this week announced official charges against a Kansas man, for accessing and tampering with a public water system.

The United States Department of Justice this week announced official charges against a Kansas man, for accessing and tampering with a public water system.

The man, Wyatt A. Travnichek, 22, of Ellsworth County, Kansas, is accused of accessing the computer system of the Ellsworth County Rural Water District without authorization.

The intrusion took place on or about March 27, 2019, the Department of Justice says.

Once he gained accessed to the protected computer system, Travnichek allegedly performed specific actions that resulted in shutting down processes affecting the facilities cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

These actions, the indictment claims, were intended to harm the Ellsworth Rural Water District No. 1, which is also referred to as Post Rock Rural Water District.

Travnichek, who worked for the Ellsworth County Rural Water District for roughly one year, had been tasked to remotely access the Post Rock computer system, for monitoring the plant.

If found guilty, Travnichek faces a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison for tampering with a public water system, and up to 5 years in federal prison for reckless damage to a protected computer during unauthorized access. He also faces fines of up to $500,000, in total.

“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 EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Kansas.

Related: U.S. Charges North Korean Hackers Over $1.3 Billion Bank Heists

Related: Russian Indicted for Attempting to Recruit Tesla Employee to Install Malware

Related: Feds Unseal 2018 Indictment Charging Kazakh Man in Hacks

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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