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Russian Cyberattacks Targeted Power Plants

by Countable | 3.16.18

What’s the story?

  • The Department of Homeland Security and FBI have accused Russia of remotely targeting "critical infrastructure," including energy, nuclear, water, and aviation sectors.

  • The agencies describe the attacks as "a multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors."

What did the "Russian cyber actors" do?

  • In their Technical Alert, the FBI and DHS explained how the hackers targeted "small commercial facilities’ networks where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks."

  • This is the first time the U.S. has publicly accused Russia of hacking the American energy infrastructure.

  • "We now have evidence [Russian hackers are] sitting on the machines, connected to industrial control infrastructure, that allow them to effectively turn the power off or effect sabotage," Eric Chien, a security technology director at Symantec, told the New York Times. “From what we can see, they were there. They have the ability to shut the power off. All that’s missing is some political motivation.”

How is the energy sector responding?

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the Department of Energy has "worked closely with government partners and energy sector asset owners to help ensure attempts failed or were stopped."

  • Perry added: "This event demonstrates exactly why I am creating an Office of Cyber Security and Emergency Response (CESER). It is crucial for the DOE to consolidate and strengthen our efforts to combat the growing nefarious cyber threats we face."

  • The report came the same day the U.S. Treasury imposed fresh economic sanctions on five "entities" and 19 individuals for interfering in the 2016 presidential election and for conducting a series of cyberattacks.

What do you think?

Is the U.S. prepared for these types of cyberattacks? Are we imposing sufficient sanctions on Russia? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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