According to a US Department of Justice charge released on Thursday, three Russian spies spent several years attacking electricity systems.
They did this in 135 countries in order to enable the Russian government to seize remote control of power facilities.
This could be a new strategy the Russian government is employing to exert tyrannical domination over the western world.
They Have Been Caught
The three FSB officials — Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, Mikhail Mikhailovich Gavrilov, and Marat Valeryevich Tyukov — worked to conceal ransomware in software upgrades used by systems to control hardware in power plants from 2012 to 2014, per an affidavit filed in a state court in Kansas.
This and other methods allowed the accused to infect 17,000 machines all around the world with malware. The attacks had already been revealed in 2018.
Between 2014 to 2017, Akulov, Gavrilov, as well as Tyukov, were suspected of targeting around 3,300 people in the energy sector with spear-phishing and other techniques.
White House cybersecurity official Anne Neuberger said the U.S. government has seen 'preparatory' Russian hacking activity aimed at numerous U.S. companies, but it has 'no certainty' such an attack will occur https://t.co/2e9JtF7Ayb pic.twitter.com/JjvWgSgmFe
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 22, 2022
According to the accusation, their victims worked for over 500 different organizations, including the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. They are accused of hacking into the corporate network of Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp.
This happened in Kansas, which operates a nuclear power plant. However, a Justice Department official, who spoke on the request to remain anonymous in order to allow reporters to attend a media briefing, said Thursday the industrial control network was not obtained.
The accusation was one of two against Russian hackers that were unsealed on Thursday.
Between 2017 and 2018, Russian resident Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh and unidentified co-conspirators allegedly targeted a foreign oil plant and a U.S. energy corporation, according to a second indictment unsealed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Russia is a Menace
“Russian government hackers represent a substantial and persistent threat to key infrastructure in the United States and around the globe,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said on Thursday in a release.
“While the criminal charges announced today relate to prior conduct, they highlight the vital need for American firms to strengthen their protections and remain watchful.”
More steps by the US federal government will be disclosed in the coming days, according to the Justice Department spokesman.
#ThisWeekatJustice DOJ Honored Women's History Month with an Observance Program; Four Russian Government Employees Charged in Two Historical Hacking Campaigns Targeting Critical Infrastructure Worldwide; and more pic.twitter.com/Krdqy01K7j
— Justice Department (@TheJusticeDept) March 25, 2022
“When it comes to vital infrastructure, these changes demonstrate the dark art of the possible,” a Justice Department spokesman said.
The Department of Justice decided to declassify the charges to warn people about dangers of key infrastructure, as well as underline the department’s concerns about present malicious Russian activity, according to the official.
The indictments, per the person, serve as a warning of the Russian government’s intentions and capabilities.
The accusations’ public disclosure also appears to be a tacit admission that indicted military leaders are unlikely to be apprehended and deported to the United States.