Hackers could be trying to cause a lights-out situation in the United States – or worse, and officials say Russia is the number one suspect.
Hackers have been breaching security networks of companies that operate more than a dozen energy plants since May – including Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation in Kansas, which operates a nuclear power plant, according to The New York Times. It was not clear whether the hackers intended to steal information or are seeking to cause destruction.
Bloomberg reported that Russia is the chief suspect of the hackings, according to “three people familiar with the continuing effort to eject the hackers from the computer networks.”
While the hacks have not affected systems in a way that would pose a public threat, there are concerns that future attacks that could potentially lead to “an explosion, fire or a spill of dangerous material,” The Times reported, citing “two people familiar with the attacks who could not be named because of confidentiality agreements.”
The Times recently obtained an “urgent” joint report from Homeland Security and the FBI, and the agencies said in a joint statement: “There is no indiction of a threat to public safety, as any potential impact appears to be limited to administrative and business networks,” according to The Times.
According to the report, the hackers were likely gathering data to plan future attacks, but “investigators have not been able to analyze the malicious ‘payload’ of the hackers’ code, which would offer more detail into what they were after,” The Times reported.
When Bloomberg reached out for a comment, Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We don’t pay attention to such anonymous fakes.”
This allegation comes during a tense time in the U.S., as both the threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile prowess grows, and the country grapples with investigating exactly what happened during the 2016 Presidential election. Russia supposedly hacked the election, as officials have testified under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is investing the Russia probe.
President Donald Trump is slated to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Friday, July 7, during a private meeting at the G-20 Summit in Germany.