Attacks/Breaches

7/24/2018
12:35 PM
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DHS Officials: Hundreds of US Utility Victims Infiltrated by Russian Hackers

Federal government officials up their count of US energy sector victims from dozens to hundreds, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

The US Department of Homeland Security, which earlier this year warned of Russian nation-state hacking teams targeting energy and other critical infrastructure organizations, in a briefing this week provided more details on the attack campaign.

The Wall Street Journal reported that DHS officials said there were hundreds of victims: an increase from their original count of a few dozen targets who had been hacked by Dragonfly, aka Energetic Bear, via supply-chain attacks.

The attackers hopped from commercial supplier networks to the energy organizations and siphoned information on how the utility sites operate and were trying to remain under the radar, appearing as "people who touch these systems on a daily basis," Jonathan Homer, chief of industrial-control-system analysis for DHS told the WSJ.

"The DHS has done a great job amplifying what was previously identified by the private sector and adding their own information. This relates to activity already previously communicated to the electric community, but highlighting ongoing risk is important," said Rob Lee, CEO of Dragos.

But, Lee says, the WSJ report's reference to "throwing switches" and "causing blackouts" was misleading. It's more of a cyber espionage operation: "What was observed is incredibly concerning, but images of imminent blackouts are not representative of what happened which was more akin to reconnaissance into sensitive networks," Lee says.

Read more here.

 

 

 

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Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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lunny
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lunny,
User Rank: Strategist
7/24/2018 | 9:08:13 PM
Catch 22
Public utilities, especially those owning nuclear reactors, are highly regulated.  That, along with rigorous safety protocols, inhibits rapid change.  Over the long term, this results in legacy systems and software throughout the organization.  "Don't touch it!  You might break something.", is the safe decision (or perceived as such).  Any serious threat actor, especially a nation state type, is collecting information that will only be used when the doo-doo hits the fan one day.  There's a sweet spot somewhere in Agile land where innovation meets tried and true fundamentals.  These are not mutually exclusive.
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