The U.S. Department of Energy announced that its experts would help U.S. power companies, of which at least one is a nuclear-powered, to help build a defense against hackers. The Feds warned that hackers have run a hacking campaign aimed at these companies recently, but the attacks have not reached the grid or electricity production.
Reuters reported the the attacks a week ago after the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security warned industrial firms of hackers trying to breach the nuclear and power infrastructure.
“DOE is working with our government and industry partners to mitigate any impact from a cyber intrusion affecting entities in the energy sector,”
a DOE official told reporters Friday.
The official also said that the past attacks only affected the business and administrative networks; no critical infrastructure was impacted.
The federal government couldn’t tell who the hackers were. They did say that the hacking campaign is “an advanced persistent threat.” This phrase is usually used in official documents to describe operations conducted by culprits.
Hackers Target Kansas Nuclear Plant
The DOE made the announcement after Bloomberg News reported that one of the power companies affected by the cyber-attack was the Kansas-based Wolf Creek nuclear facility. Bloomberg cited unnamed officials in the report.
The management of Wolf Creek power plant refused to confirm the news. They did say that the facility is out of harm’s way since the plant’s computer systems are not connected to the corporate network.
The DHS unveiled the hacking tools used in the attack, which revealed that hackers tried to use the password of one of the nuclear facility’s employees to breach the complex. It is unclear if hackers had compromised the employee’s account.
Authorities said hackers likely used phishing tactics to harvest credentials from employees. The official report reads that, traditionally, hackers are interested in power systems for cyber espionage or simply to disrupt the infrastructure in the event of an armed conflict.
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