There’s no denying the pattern — Russia is attacking the credibility of U.S. institutions to create chaos and stir up distrust of our leaders, engineers, and scientists. This video looks at Russian efforts to spread anti-vaccination propaganda and to push for “energy choice,” a sneaky effort to break up the utilities that actually secure our energy grid (from their cyberattacks).
The dangers of an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, are the stuff of nightmares — think widespread blackouts, halting of air travel, crippling of the U.S. economy and potential total social breakdown.
Officials have been warning for years that Russia, China, Iran or North Korea could unleash an EMP attack on the U.S. electric grid; or just as scary, one could be caused by a solar flare.
Recognizing the potential devastating effects an EMP would bring, the White House took action this week via an Executive Order from President Trump to protect the nation’s critical infrastructure from EMPs, boost detection capabilities and plan for recovery should one occur.
While unleashing an EMP attack would be an indisputable act of war, and bring a swift response from the U.S., it could be a highly effective first strike. Military leaders in adversarial countries know this, and EMP weapons have become part of their planning doctrines, according to a government report.
“It is the policy of the United States to prepare for the effects of EMPs through targeted approaches that coordinate whole-of-government activities and encourage private-sector engagement,” the executive order said.
What motivates us at CAFI? Why have taken up the fight against foreign interference? This video gives you a quick introduction to the cause and why it’s so important, in under two minutes. Please watch and share.
Russian hackers have been probing—and gaining access to—critical U.S. infrastructure organizations like electric utilities. But how?
Aren’t these supposed to be among the most protected assets in the entire country? Certainly the dangers of any compromise of the electric grid are scary to contemplate. So it’s worth understanding the ways in which hackers exploit both technical vulnerabilities and human behavior to gain illicit access.
A new report by cybersecurity firm Cybereason reveals some of the methods that hackers have been using to break into these holy grails of our national industrial infrastructure.
The firm established a “honeypot” site—a fake website made to resemble a large electricity provider—and then sat back and watched what happened.
They didn’t sit around for long.
“Just two days after the honeypot went live, attackers had discovered it, prepared the asset for sale on the dark Web and sold it to another criminal entity who was also interested in [industrial control system] environments,” according to the report.
Former CIA Directors Gen. David Petraeus and Leon Panetta both warn that the U.S. faces a huge threat from a major cyberattack, one that could knock out the electric grid and cripple financial networks.
An Axios report this weekend quotes Petraeus saying, “What worries me most is a cyber equivalent of a weapon of mass destruction falling into the hands of extremists who would, needless to say, be very difficult to deter, given their willingness to blow themselves up on the battlefield to take us with them.”
Other current and former intelligence and homeland security officials concur, including DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Michael Chertoff, Lisa Monaco and Frances Townsend.
Russia is not the only foreign power to have demonstrated the capability and interest in waging a cyberattack on the U.S.—China, North Korea and potentially even non-state actors can wreak havoc too. But Russia all eyes are on Russia due to recent provocations aimed at energy companies and news reports that they’ve successfully penetrated critical U.S. electricity infrastructure.
A well-executed cyberattack could knock out the electrical grid and shut off power to a huge swath of the country, or compromise vital government or financial data and leave us unsure what is real. The sheer number of internet-connected devices, from cars to pacemakers, means the risks are growing by the day.
Congress is slowly but surely ratcheting up pressure on the White House to take action to protect against Russian cyber threats to the energy grid. NBC News reports:
A bipartisan duo of U.S. senators is urging President Donald Trump to pay more attention to the threat posed by Russia against critical infrastructure like the nation’s electric grid, and to provide an analysis of the risk and a plan of action within 90 days.
In a letter to the White House Wednesday, Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell and South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham write that they are “concerned about Russia’s capabilities with respect to cyberattacks on our energy infrastructure.”
From the Wall Street Journal today, a story showing Russia’s skill, patience and persistence. This is a serious threat.
Hackers working for Russia claimed “hundreds of victims” last year in a giant and long-running campaign that put them inside the control rooms of U.S. electric utilities where they could have caused blackouts, federal officials said. They said the campaign likely is continuing.
The Russian hackers, who worked for a shadowy state-sponsored group previously identified as Dragonfly or Energetic Bear, broke into supposedly secure, “air-gapped” or isolated networks owned by utilities with relative ease by first penetrating the networks of key vendors who had trusted relationships with the power companies, said officials at the Department of Homeland Security.
“They got to the point where they could have thrown switches” and disrupted power flows, said Jonathan Homer, chief of industrial-control-system analysis for DHS.