American Energy Sector Already Under Cyberattack

American Energy Sector Already Under Cyberattack

Advanced computer attacks are probing networks at nuclear facilities as well as others.

Nuclear power plants are under attack by hackers, according to an urgent report issued last month by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and seen by the New York Times. The Times reported on July 6 that the attacks have been occurring since May and have also targeted other energy facilities and manufacturing plants.

Instead of focusing on the equipment running the power states, the attacks focused on personnel. Hackers targeted industrial control engineers, people with direct access to the most sensitive and potentially dangerous parts of the plants.

The Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. is one of the targeted facilities. It operates a nuclear plant near Burlington, Kansas. Officials from the company stated their corporate and operating networks were separate from each other, and no operations system had been affected.

The report concluded that the hacks were designed to map out the computer networks of the targets in order to gather information for future attacks.

The New York Times stated that some people familiar with the investigation claimed that the hackers’ techniques were patterned after those of a Russian hacking group that has been “tied to attacks on the energy sector since at least 2012.”

The Times reported that Jon Wellinghoff, former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said that critical infrastructure systems in America have improved their security in recent years, but were still vulnerable to more advanced cyberattacks.

In 2008, the U.S. launched a computer attack known as Stuxnet against Iran’s nuclear power plants. The cyberweapon was actually able to destroy a fifth of Iran’s centrifuges. But America itself is heavily reliant on computer network technology, making it vulnerable to this same type of attack.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry pointed to cyberwarfare as early as 2005 as America’s greatest weakness. For more, read his article “America’s Achilles Heel—and Germany.”