Warning About Russia: They can 'Shut the Power Off'

US says hackers have gained entry to power plants, including nuclear facilities

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 16, 2018 11:30 AM CDT

·       A first: The report is "damning confirmation of what has for months been suspected: that hackers in Russia are capable of infiltrating and compromising vital systems relied on by millions of Americans," per Time. This also marks the first time that the US has accused Russia of hacking the energy grid, and that development is "unprecedented and extraordinary," a former DHS tech official tells Reuters.

·       Any damage? Nope. The hackers appear to have done nothing malicious upon entering, but screenshots posted by the feds make clear that the hackers gained the necessary "foothold" on systems to take them down in, say, the event of a conflict, per the Times.

·       Now what? Lawmakers including Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell have been pushing for an assessment to the vulnerability of the US power grid, and Cantwell hopes the report "is the first step in a robust and aggressive strategy to protect our critical infrastructure," per Bloomberg. The US also has slapped new sanctions on Russia.

·       Ukraine example: Stories, including this one at Radio Free Europe, are pointing out that Russia has been widely blamed for turning the lights out in Ukraine in unprecedented energy-grid attacks in 2015 and 2016. The US also thinks Russia is responsible for the "NotPetya" cyberattacks of 2017 that hit businesses worldwide.

·       Different hackers: So are these the same hackers accused of meddling in the 2016 election? Apparently not. The Times suggests three different Russian groups were working: one stole emails from Democrats and others, another worked to foment divisions online with political postings, and the third worked on hacking the energy grid and other infrastructure systems. The US report links to an October report by Symantec calling the latter group "Dragonfly." They've reportedly hit targets in Turkey and Switzerland, too.

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