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Russia-backed hackers penetrated U.S. utilities

by Les Sillars
Posted 7/25/18, 11:10 am

Hackers working for Russia last year gained access to some U.S. utilities where they could have caused blackouts, according to The Wall Street Journal. The long-running campaign by a state-sponsored group known as Dragonfly or Energetic Bear used phishing emails and spoof websites to penetrate the networks of key tech vendors that had trusted relationships with the power companies. From there the hackers stole credentials to gain access to the utilities. A Department of Homeland Security official said there were “hundreds of victims.”

“They got to the point where they could have thrown switches” and disrupted power flows, said Jonathan Homer, chief of industrial control system analysis for DHS. The Journal also quoted Michael Carpenter, former deputy assistant secretary of defense, saying the Russians are “positioning” themselves for an attack: “They are waging a covert war on the West.” Russia has denied targeting critical infrastructure. In 2017, security company Symantec reported that hackers had broken into systems of utility companies in North America over the past two years and speculated that Russia was involved. The Trump administration accused Moscow of the attacks in March.

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Les Sillars

Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., and is WORLD Magazine’s Mailbag editor.

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  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Wed, 07/25/2018 03:09 pm

    “Yes, but why the Russians? There’s lots of people out there. It could have been anyone.” Different circumstances, different event—but same motivation from the same country.   Russia is not our friend, nor soon will be  


  • OldMike
    Posted: Wed, 07/25/2018 03:11 pm

    If the Russians (or anyone else) actually causes a shutdown of any portion of our grid, isn’t that an act of war?  

    Hopefully every one of these incursions is an opportunity for intense learning and improvements in security of our systems. 

  •  West Coast Gramma's picture
    West Coast Gramma
    Posted: Wed, 07/25/2018 03:23 pm duh! Great comment Old Mike. Can we extend what you say to include election hacking? No matter which side it may have favored? And why does our president invite the leader of this aggressive enemy to our country as his favored guest?