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Published: Mon, July 10, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Joint Report From DHS/FBI: Nuclear Facilities Are Being Targeted By Hackers

Joint Report From DHS/FBI: Nuclear Facilities Are Being Targeted By Hackers

Firms operating nuclear power plants and other energy facilities in the U.S. have been under attack by hackers in recent months, according to a report by The New York Times.

While the joint DHS-FBI report carries an "amber" threat warning, the industry appears to be downplaying the seriousness of the hackers' activities. That means that to jump from the corporate network, which these hackers reportedly probed, to the critical control systems would be far more hard than in other industrial facilities.

Lochbaum said hackers targeting such facilities are routinely looking for easy to access systems and information and try "to exploit (system weaknesses) and get as much information as possible". Now, with United States officials believing that the security breach in the nuclear power plants has been orchestrated by foreign governments, Russian Federation as a suspect is not far fetched. The worm attacked the facility's nuclear centrifuges by overriding the system and instructing them to spin much faster than intended, reportedly causing severe physical damage.

"There was absolutely no operational impact to Wolf Creek", a spokeswoman for the nuclear plant told Bloomberg News.

In some cases, the hackers also compromised legitimate websites that they knew their victims frequented - something security specialists call a watering-hole attack.

The hackers sent highly targeted emails to senior engineers at operating firms behind the nuclear plants, mimicking job applications but laced with malicious code, according to the New York Times.

"Historically, cyber actors have strategically targeted the energy sector with various goals ranging from cyber espionage to the ability to disrupt energy systems in the event of a hostile conflict", Reuters quoted the report as stating.

Cybersecurity is increasingly a focus in the power sector in the wake of a successful attack in Ukraine a year ago which resulted in a widespread blackout and Russian interference in the 2016 US elections.

"Deeply concerning and a serious threat to national security".

Hackers have been infiltrating the networks of companies that run nuclear plants in the United States, including in Kansas, since May. This raised concerns that someone is looking for ways to disrupt the USA electric grid, and there are signs that Russian Federation may be the culprit.

While the Federal Bureau of Investigation told the NY Times that they believe that this hacking presents no current danger to the public, other unsettling details surfaced from the report.

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