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Russia hacked electrical grids in 2017, had potential to trigger blackouts: Report

July 24, 2018

Russia targeted not only elections but also electrical grids in 2017, U.S. government officials confirmed, according to a Wall Street Journal report published Monday night.

Department of Homeland Security officials told the WSJ that hackers from a group named Dragonfly or Energetic Dear, backed by the Russian government, targeted utility networks. They gained access tocorporate networks by stealing “hundreds” of passwords through spear-phishing and watering-hole attacks.

The control that hackers had could have potentially caused blackouts and other disruptions to services.

Chief of Industrial-Control-System Analysis for DHS Johnathan Homer said, “They got to the point where they could have thrown switches.”

In March, the government announced that Russia was targeting infrastructure sectors through cyberattacks and that their efforts reached back to 2016.

In 2017, Symantec reported that Russians gained access to power control grids. Now, the government has confirmed and provided details about the attack.

The WSJ report comes among mounting suspicion towards Russian cyberespionage and digital warfare. Intelligence agencies have all agreed that Russia hacked and interfered in the 2016 election and that the threat is ongoing.

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