Kansas Man pleads guilty to hacking the Post Rock Rural Water District

Pierluigi Paganini October 26, 2021

Kansas man Wyatt Travnichek admitted in court to tampering with the computer systems at the Post Rock Rural Water District.

Kansas man Wyatt A. Travnichek pleaded guilty to tampering with the computer system at a drinking water treatment facility at the Post Rock Rural Water District. The man also pleaded guilty to one count of reckless damage to a protected computer system during unauthorized access. 

In April, the United States Department of Justice charged Wyatt A. Travnichek, of Ellsworth County, Kansas, for accessing and tampering with the computer system of the Ellsworth County Rural Water District.

Travnichek accessed the computer systems of the Public Water System on about March 27, 2019, without authorization.

Travnichek worked for the Ellsworth County Rural Water District for roughly one year, he was remote monitoring the plan by accessing the Post Rock computer system.

Once gained access to the public water system, the man allegedly performed malicious actions that halted the processes at the facility that impacted the cleaning and disinfecting procedures.

The attack against the critical infrastructure posed a serious risk to the safety and health of an entire community.

According to the indictment, the man hacked the system with the intent to harm the Ellsworth Rural Water District No. 1, aka Post Rock Rural Water District.

The Kansan man used his cell phone to access the computer systems of the Public Water System, but at the time he declared that on the night of the incident (March 27, 2019) he was intoxicated and was able to explain what has really happened.

“Ensuring the security of our nations cyber infrastructure is one of the FBI’s top priorities and the plea underscores the joint dedication to that effort by the FBI, EPA and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. There is no doubt that Travnichek’s intentional actions directly placed the public in harm’s way. The plea should send a clear message to anyone who attempts to tamper with public facilities – law enforcement will remain resolute in investigating any and all threats that put the public’s health at risk,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Charles Dayoub. 

“Protecting America’s drinking water is a top EPA priority,” said Special Agent in Charge Lance Ehrig of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Kansas.  “EPA will continue our focused efforts with DOJ and the states as we investigate and pursue any threats that might be directed toward vital community drinking water resources.”

The EPA and the FBI recommend a prison sentence of 12 months and one day in prison.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, cyber security)

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