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Hackers are targeting energy, critical infrastructure, warns U.S. gov

Market news |
By Rich Pell

Both government agencies issued an email with a report warning that nuclear, energy, aviation, water and critical manufacturing industries, as well as various government entities, have been targeted by hackers since at least last May. Their report indicated that some of the hackers’ targets had been compromised – including at least one energy generator – but did not identify any specific companies or organizations.

According to the report, which included technical documents describing the malware used in the attacks, the attacks were attempts to “compromise organizational networks with malicious emails and tainted websites to obtain credentials for accessing computer networks of their targets.”

“[This] technical alert provides recommendations to prevent and mitigate malicious cyber activity targeting multiple sectors and reiterated our commitment to remain vigilant for new threats,” Department of Homeland Security spokesman Scott McConnell told Reuters.

The report suggests an escalation in the targeting of infrastructure in Europe and the United States as has been described in other recent cybersecurity related reports from private companies and organizations. It identified the attacker(s) as the same as that described by software security company Symantec in a September report, which warned that an advanced hacking group – called Dragonfly – had penetrated operational systems of some U.S. and European energy companies.

“This is very aggressive activity,” Robert Lee, chief executive of cybersecurity firm Dragos told Reuters. According to Lee, the report appears to “describe hackers working in the interests of the Russian government.” Other reports suggest that the attacks could be the work of a hacking group affiliated with the Russian Federation known as “Berserk Bear.”

So far, say security experts, they have not seen any destructive actions on the part of the attackers. However, the report said, “[Homeland Security] has confidence that this campaign is still ongoing and threat actors are actively pursuing their objectives over a long-term campaign.”

US-CERT: Advanced Persistent Threat Activity Targeting Energy and Other Critical Infrastructure Sectors

Related articles:
Hacker group ‘Dragonfly’ targeting U.S., EU energy sector
New malware targets power grids, say researchers
Is your smart grid secured? Power grid ‘health’ monitoring needed for cybersecurity, say researchers
Radiation sensing systems have hackable security flaws, warns researcher


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