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.
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