Hackers claimed to be from Russia are reported to have succeeded in penetrating into the power utilities of United States last year. Their intention was clear, to cause blackouts across America and cause panic and chaos among the populace.
An official statement released a few hours ago from Department of Homeland Security claims that the hackers group identified as Dragonfly aka Energetic Bear broke into the network of some key vendors working for the American power utilities to have access to the controls of the supply. The objective was to shut down supply to the critical infrastructure of the nation to cause political instability.
“They got to the point where they could have thrown the switches into open to disrupt power flow,” said Jonathan Homer, the Industrial control system analyst to DHS.
He had no answer to the question of what were the utilities doing after being consistently warned of cyber attacks since 2014.
All the above said sentences were divulged in a briefing from DHS which took place on Monday. And this happens to be the first time that the fed has given out information in an unclassified setting and that too in a detailed manner.
Although DHS withheld the names of the victims, it added in its statement that they were 100’s of victims, not a few dozens as said previously.
The irony is that some companies do not even know that they have been compromised, because the attackers used the credentials of actual employees working for the utility, which makes the intrusion almost impossible to detect.
Was it a work of some insiders?
Mr. Homer said that the investigation is still going on and so nothing substantial can be concluded as off now.
Homer added in his statement that the victimized vendors fell prey to spear phishing emails and water-hole attacks- where online users are tricked to use their passwords on fake websites.
And as soon as the hackers were inside the network, they started to work on the real objective which is to cause the disruption in the power supply.