Russia Hacks Wolf Creek Nuclear

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK July 7, 2017 - In a joint report by The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) last week and obtained by The New York Times and confirmed by security specialists who have been responding to possible Russian cyberattacks on several US Nuclear Power plants carried an urgent amber warning. Among the possible victims, Wolf Creek Nuclear in Burlington, Kansas. This is the second-highest rating for the sensitivity of the threat.

"There was absolutely no operational impact to Wolf Creek," Jenny Hageman, a spokeswoman for the nuclear plant, said in a statement to Bloomberg News. "The reason that is true is because the operational computer systems are completely separate from the corporate network."

Although the exact origins of the hacking are unknown, sources indicate similar techniques employed in past cyber-attacks to be similar to those used by Russian Hacking groups. In Dec 2015, 225,000 customers in the Ukraine were affected when an unscheduled power outage occurred due to a massive cyber-attack into the country’s power grid. IP addresses from the attack also appeared to be from Russia.

The Ukraine cyber-attack was reportedly a synchronized and coordinated effort following an extensive reconnaissance of three regional Oblenergos(electric power distribution companies) networks. According to officials, the attacks at each company occurred within 30 mins of each other at various facilities. The attacks consisted of the KillDisk malware erasing selected files and corrupting master boot records rendering systems inoperable. In addition, each company also indicated it had been infected with the BlackEnergy malware, however it was uncertain if it had a direct link to the shutdown. The malware was reportedly injected into internal networks through spear phishing email campaigns using malicious Microsoft Office attachments.

In a joint statement with the F.B.I., in reference to the nuclear hacking, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said, “There is no indication of a threat to public safety, as any potential impact appears to be limited to administrative and business networks.”

Russian hacking attempts into US interests have been widely documented and a formal inquiry was established in December 2016 by the federal government following evidence of tampering in the U.S. 2016 election, as well as a range of U.S. Government, political, and private sector entities. 

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