An image taken with a thermal camera shows the shutdown of a nuclear power plant in Germany. The picture does not show any temperature difference outside the power plant.
Credit: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Firms operating nuclear power plants and other energy facilities in the US have been under attack by hackers in recent months, according to a report by The New York Times.
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued an urgent joint report last week warning operators of the attacks.
The intrusions have been happening since May, hitting companies including Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which operates a nuclear power plant in Kansas, the New York Times reports.
“What made these particular hacks disturbing was that they were really targeting nuclear facilities’ quality control engineers, who are the people who have access to the operational systems at nuclear facilities,” said New York Times reporter Nicole Perlroth.
It’s not clear who is behind the attack, but Perlroth says investigators are comparing the hackers’ techniques to those of a Russian hacking group known to cybersecurity specialists as Energetic Bear.
“[We believe that] they are nation-state backed … because of the amount of resources it takes [to] target as many facilities are they have and in as many ways that they have,” Perlroth said. “But beyond that, we don’t know exactly who they are. They could be Russian contracted hackers, they could be what [Russian
President] Vladimir Putin calls patriotic hackers and they could be sitting in a government society. We really just don’t know.”
Researchers say Energetic Bear has been tied to attacks against the energy sector since at least 2012