It looks like our presidential election isn’t the only thing Russia has hacked in the United States during recent months. According to officials, Russia is suspected of successfully hacking into multiple U.S. power plants in an effort to take down power grids.
Bloomberg reports that “hackers working for a foreign government recently breached at least a dozen U.S. power plants, including the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas.”
The enemy could be positioning itself to eventually disrupt the nation’s power supply, warned the officials, who noted that a general alert was distributed to utilities a week ago. Adding to those concerns, hackers recently infiltrated an unidentified company that makes control systems for equipment used in the power industry, an attack that officials believe may be related.
The chief suspect is Russia, according to three people familiar with the continuing effort to eject the hackers from the computer networks. One of those networks belongs to an aging nuclear generating facility known as Wolf Creek — owned by Westar Energy Inc., Great Plains Energy Inc. and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative Inc. — on a lake shore near Burlington, Kansas.
This wouldn’t be a first for Russia, as they have taken down sections of power grids in the Ukraine. But U.S. officials insist that operations at Wolf Creek were not breached.
“There was absolutely no operational impact to Wolf Creek,” Jenny Hageman, a spokeswoman for the nuclear plant, said in a statement. “The reason that is true is because the operational computer systems are completely separate from the corporate network.”
Sean McBride, a lead analyst for FireEye Inc., a global cybersecurity firm, explained that although Russia is the prime suspect, proving it can be difficult.
“We don’t tie this to any known group at this point,” McBride said. “It’s not to say it’s not related, but we don’t have the evidence at this point.”
A general warning was sent out to utility companies by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI in June, but Galina Antova, co-founder of Claroty is still worried.
We’re moving to a point where a major attack like this is very, very possible,” Antova said. “Once you’re into the control systems — and you can get into the control systems by hacking into the plant’s regular computer network — then the basic security mechanisms you’d expect are simply not there.”
Antova also warned that even though no real damage was done when Ukraine’s power grids were attacked, Russia could just be testing the world to see how much they can get away with.
“If you think about a typical war, some of the acts that have been taken against critical infrastructure in Ukraine and even in the U.S., those would be considered crossing red lines,” Antova said.
Meanwhile, Trump is set to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin tomorrow, but you can bet your bottom dollar that Trump isn’t going to have the guts to bring any of this up. He is completely enamored with Putin and owes him his gratitude for helping to put his orange derriere in the White House.
Featured image via Sean Gallup/Getty Images