Reports are out that Russian hackers have infiltrated the control rooms of U.S. electricity providers.
A report by the Wall Street Journal on Monday revealed that the control rooms of hundreds of electricity providers in the United States were compromised last year due to a supposed ongoing campaign against power company vendors by Russian hackers.
Officials from the Department of Homeland Security told WSJ that hackers from the Russian group Dragonfly, also known as Energetic Bear, were able to infiltrate the networks of U.S. energy companies enough to disrupt power service or cause blackouts.
“They got to the point where they could have thrown switches,” Jonathan Homer, DHS Chief of Industrial-Control-System Analysis, said.
The attack was initially discovered back in 2016 and has allegedly continued until 2017. It also appears that some of the companies that were hacked may not have any knowledge yet that they’ve been victims of hacking. According to the WSJ, most of the hackers have exploited the identities of some of the companies’ employees to gain access to their networks. This tactic alone made it difficult for the intrusion to be detected.
This is not the first time that the energy sector has been the primary target of international hacking syndicates. In fact, organizations running the country’s energy, nuclear, and other vital infrastructure have been attacked by hackers more frequently in recent years.
They have been a favorite since most of the software used on their systems are either old or outdated due to the high cost of upgrading infrastructure.
The news of the hacking incident comes amid the rising tension between the United States and Russia regarding cybersecurity issues. Just last month, U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly charged 12 Russian hackers due to their involvement with the cyber attacks on the Democratic National Committee.