Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The would-be mass poisoning that a small town in Florida dodged last week is a chilling reminder that cybersecurity — often conceived in the popular imagination as purely an abstract province of ones and zeroes — can be a matter of life or death.

Why it matters: The fact that attackers were (if only briefly) able to access the control system for a municipal water supply should be a wake-up call for U.S. officials regarding the digital insecurity of many key pieces of infrastructure.

Driving the news: Hackers used TeamViewer, a remote-access software program, to tamper with a water-treatment facility in Oldsmar, Florida, a town of roughly 15,000 people outside Tampa, officials said Monday.

  • They briefly gained access to system controls for the plant and tried to massively raise the levels of lye in the water supply from 100 parts per million to more than 11,000. (Lye, commonly used to treat drinking water, is nontoxic when diluted but poisonous at higher concentrations.)
  • Plant operators quickly discovered the tampering attempt, prevented the alteration of lye levels, and shut out the hackers from their systems.

What they’re saying: “At no time was there a significant adverse effect on the water being treated,” said Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County sheriff. “Importantly, the public was never in danger.”

Yes, but: The incident still underscores the potential for enormous damage that lies dormant within many pieces of internet-connected infrastructure in the country.

  • It's a real concern, particularly as more critical infrastructure comes online and more international crime and nation-state conflict moves into the cyber realm.

In this case, while the FBI and Secret Service are investigating the breach, we don't know if the incident was an attempted terrorist attack, unsophisticated but malicious nation-state activity, or “merely” the work of a deranged individual.

  • There is a chasm between a serious operation to poison an entire town’s water supply as an act of either state-sponsored sabotage or non-state terrorism and a half-baked, foolish — if malign and potentially deadly — gambit by some group of individuals who may not have even fully conceived of the seriousness of their actions.
  • The continuum is broad, and we don’t know precisely where this event fits yet.

Of note: The “noisy” and haphazard nature of the hackers' work and the ease with which they got in — a worrying data point on its own — seem to point to something less than a well-thought-out operation conducted by a determined, top-tier nation-state adversary, say experts.

  • While incidents like Oldsmar “are concerning given adversary brazenness ... they also are incredibly unsophisticated in nature — representing a burglar opening an unlocked door more than a thief penetrating a well-resourced security system,” writes Joe Slowik, a senior threat researcher at DomainTools.
  • Slowik suggested the incident may more than anything else echo a series of seemingly simplistic breaches by hackers of water infrastructure in Israel last year, “where insecure systems were remotely accessible and entities simply took advantage of circumstances.”

The catch: Crude as the operation may have been, the hackers appeared to be trying to sicken or even kill Oldsmar residents — a rare instance of a known cyberattack targeting an industrial control system within the U.S. where the aim of the operation seemed to be lethal in intent.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. sounds alarm on Ukraine

Conscripts line up at a Russian railway station yesterday before departing for Army service. Photo: Sergei Malgavko/TASS via Getty Images

The Biden administration is "deeply concerned" by new intelligence — detailed for Axios and other outlets — showing Russia stepping up preparations to invade Ukraine as soon as early 2022.

Why it matters: Most of this was known from public sources and satellite imagery, but the administration is sending a stronger signal by releasing specific details from the intelligence community.

CNN fires Chris Cuomo

Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for CNN

CNN said Saturday evening it has fired one of its star anchors, Chris Cuomo, following new revelations from a legal review made by the company into Cuomo's involvement in the management of his brother's sexual harassment scandal.

Why it matters: Saturday's firing speaks to how much pressure CNN was under by employees and critics to address Cuomo's behavior.

Updated 4 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Electric car prices could go up before they come down

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The secret to affordable electric vehicles is cheaper batteries. But after years of falling prices, battery costs are now headed in the wrong direction.

Why it matters: Costlier batteries could drive up the price of electric vehicles — threatening the auto industry's transition away from fossil fuels, and, in turn, society's fight against climate change.