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Cyber attacks attributed to Russian state actors by US administration

20 March 2018

The US administration accused Russia on March 15 of engineering a series of cyberattacks that targeted American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, and could have sabotaged or shut power plants off at will. Observers saw the attacks as a signal by Moscow that it could disrupt the West’s critical facilities in the event of a conflict.

Stock image
Stock image

According to a Department of Homeland Security report, Russian hackers made their way onto machines with access to critical control systems at power plants that were not identified. The hackers never went so far as to sabotage or shut down the computer systems that guide the operations of the plants.

But new computer screenshots released by the Department of Homeland Security on March 15 made clear that Russian state hackers had the foothold they would have needed to manipulate or shut down power plants.

The New York Times quoted Symantec security technology director Eric Chien saying there was now clear evidence the hackers were sitting on the machines, connected to industrial control infrastructure, that allowed them to effectively turn the power off or effect sabotage.

American intelligence agencies were aware of the attacks for the past year and a half, and the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI first issued urgent warnings to utility companies in June. In the March 15 report, both agencies offered new details as the Trump administration imposed sanctions against Russian individuals and organisations it accused of election meddling and malicious cyberattacks.

This was the first time the administration officially named Russia as the perpetrator of the assaults, according to the New York Times. And it marked the third time in recent months that the White House, departing from its usual reluctance to publicly reveal intelligence, blamed foreign government forces for attacks on infrastructure in the United States.

To see the full NYT article, click on the link below.

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