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Russians Who Pose Election Threat Have Hacked Nuclear Plants and Power Grid


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Russian hackers targeted the Wolf Creek power plant in Kansas in 2017.

Over the past five years, Russian state hackers have breached the U.S. power grid, its water treatment facilities, and even nuclear power plants.

Credit: Mark Reinstein/Corbis/Getty Images

Cybersecurity officials watched with growing alarm in September as Russian state hackers started prowling around dozens of American state and local government computer systems just two months before the election.

The act itself did not worry them so much — officials anticipated that the Russians who interfered in the 2016 election would be back — but the actor did. The group, known to researchers as "Dragonfly" or "Energetic Bear" for its hackings of the energy sector, was not involved in 2016 election hacking. But it has in the past five years breached the power grid, water treatment facilities and even nuclear power plants, including one in Kansas.

It also hacked into Wi-Fi systems at San Francisco International Airport and at least two other West Coast airports in March in an apparent bid to find one unidentified traveler, a demonstration of the hackers' power and resolve.

September's intrusions marked the first time that researchers caught the group, a unit of Russia's Federal Security Service, or F.S.B., targeting states and counties. The timing of the attacks so close to the election and the potential for disruption set off concern inside private security firms, law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

 

From The New York Times
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