Russian Hackers Targeting Power Companies

Russian Hackers Targeting Power Companies
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The group of Russian hackers going by the names “Energetic Bear” as well as “Dragonfly” are systematically attacking the systems of grid operators, petroleum pipelines, electricity generating firms, and other energy companies across Europe and the States.

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Russian hackers: Well organized and state-sponsored?

They are well organized and unlike hackers depicted in film that sit in dark basements and work all night, this group appears to work regular hours, almost banking hours, in a time zone shared with Russia which suggests possible government complicity. Over half the attacks that Symantec found occurred in the United States and Spain, but Germany, Italy, France and other countries were also targeted.

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When Symantec began looking into the group, they were concerned about espionage as the primary motivation for the group. That has subsequently shifted to a concern over the groups ability to sabotage power providers in recent years.

Russian hackers: Sabotage versus espionage

“The Dragonfly group is well resourced, with a range of malware tools at its disposal and is capable of launching attacks through a number of different vectors,” Symantec said. “These infections not only gave attackers a beachhead in the targeted organizations’ networks, but also gave them the means to mount sabotage operations.”

“When they do have that type of access, that motivation wouldn’t be for espionage,” said Eric Chien, chief researcher at Symantec’s Security Technology and Response Team. “When we look at where they’re at, we’re very concerned about sabotage.”

“The worst-case scenario would be that the systems get shut down,” Chien said. “You could see the power go out, for example, and there could be disruption in that sense.”

That last statement was made after Chien compared the attacks to that of the Stuxnet attacks of Iranian nuclear facilities in 2010 that targeted software made by Siemens AG with the intent of throwing centrifuges offline.

Computer attacks have picked up in recent years and there is little doubt of countries actively supporting these groups if not running them themselves. China has been the biggest concern but clearly the international community can’t concentrate on that one country.

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While studying economics, Brendan found himself comfortably falling down the rabbit hole of restaurant work, ultimately opening a consulting business and working as a private wine buyer. On a whim, he moved to China, and in his first week following a triumphant pub quiz victory, he found himself bleeding on the floor based on his arrogance. The same man who put him there offered him a job lecturing for the University of Wales in various sister universities throughout the Middle Kingdom. While primarily lecturing in descriptive and comparative statistics, Brendan simultaneously earned an Msc in Banking and International Finance from the University of Wales-Bangor. He's presently doing something he hates, respecting French people. Well, two, his wife and her mother in the lovely town of Antigua, Guatemala. <i>To contact Brendan or give him an exclusive, please contact him at</i>
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  1. I work for a security company and it is my understanding that these threats are old vs new. EST was detecting the trojans in March of this year Best practices in this field are often hard to identify. I would recommend reading how companies like OPSWAT are bringing multi-scanning applications to the frontlines

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