Hackers from Russia have apparently been assaulting the electric grid, water processing plants, air transportation facilities, nuclear power plants and other targets throughout the United States, according to new warnings from the FBI.
U.S. government officials said Thursday that these Russian hackers have been engaging in what they called “rolling attacks” on some of the country’s sensitive facilities. If these infrastructure facilities are sidelined because of cyber attacks it would have a very serious impact on the nation’s economy and defenses. And of course Putin knows this, which is why he is doing it.
“Since at least March 2016, Russian government cyber actors” have targeted “government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors,” including those of energy, nuclear, water and aviation, according to an alert issued Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation.
This published alert was the first official announcement concerning the threat to the U.S. from Russian hackers. The facilities targeted are those on which literally hundreds of millions of Americans depend for basic services.
The DHS and FBI joint statement said that there is an “ongoing multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors” on NOT ONLY the public facilities but also on “critical manufacturing sectors and commercial facilities.”
In July of 2017 there were several news reports of Russian cyber attacks on the electric grids in seven states. Since then, according to officials who declined to be quoted, the aggressive Russian effort (which amounts to an act of war) has expanded to several dozen states.
“Cyber-attacks are literally happening hundreds of thousands of times a day,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry told a hearing on capitol hill Thursday. “The warfare that goes on in the cyberspace is real, it’s serious, and we must lead the world.”
Commentators have pointed out that Thursday’s statement is “the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure.The direct condemnation of Moscow represented an escalation in the Trump administration’s attempts to deter Russian aggression in cyberspace, after senior U.S. intelligence officials said in recent weeks the Kremlin believes it can launch hacking operations against the West with impunity.”
The lack of a previous U.S. response is not surprising when you consider how President Trump has seemingly gone out of his way to avoid criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin both during his presidential campaign and after he was elected and took office. But maybe that has changed now, and the Trump administration may be more willing to address acts of Russian aggression.