Published: Sun, July 09, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Hackers reportedly targeted nuclear facilities in U.S. and other countries

Hackers reportedly targeted nuclear facilities in U.S. and other countries

A joint report from both intelligence agencies did not indicate whether the cyberattacks were meant to cause destruction or access industrial secrets.

The FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland security have been helping multiple U.S. energy companies fend off cyberattacks from foreign hackers, according to bombshell reports from the New York Times and Bloomberg on Thursday.

The information for the New York Times article was collected from a report put together by private cyber-security researchers. It carried an urgent amber warning, the second-highest rating for the sensitivity of the threat.

Whether the hackers were trying to cause destruction or steal state secrets was not stated in the report, and the number of facilities hit, or if the hackers were able to move from compromised computers to the control systems of the facilities was also unclear.

Once hackers are into a plant's control systems, typically accessible through the facility's regular computer network, "then the basic security mechanisms you'd expect are simply not there", she said. Some officials suspect the hack may have had origins in Russian Federation but again, sources emphasize no final confirmation has been made. The New York Times report says targets were both in the US and in other countries. The malware just wanted to collect data for the hackers to help them plan future attacks easily. Jeff Keeley of the NEI said no plants had reported any attacks on operational systems, which plants are required to do in the event of an attempted hack that targets infrastructure, operations or services of a power plant.

Energy, nuclear and critical manufacturing organisations have frequently been targets for sophisticated cyber attacks.

MR JON WELLINGHOFF, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The company sent a statement saying in part, "We continuously monitor for cyber security threats".

President Donald Trump signed an executive order on May 11 aimed at strengthening cybersecurity for federal and infrastructure networks.

Is the security of US nuclear facilities really being threatened by a dusty old MS Word document?

On Thursday, Trump again refused to specifically say Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 election.

Security officials warned that hackers appeared to be mapping out computer networks and searching for vulnerabilities to eventually disrupt the country's electrical grid and power supply, Bloomberg reported.

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