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Tag: cyberattacks

Russians Prime Suspects in Cyberattacks Targeting U.S. Nuclear Plants

Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, via the U.S Tennessee Valley Authority.

Bellefonte Nuclear Power Plant, via the U.S Tennessee Valley Authority.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI and Homeland Security have warned that Russia is the chief suspect behind recent computer network breaches at U.S. nuclear power plants and other energy facilities.

Federal authorities said hackers have been targeting the computer networks of companies that operate the energy plants in what security specialists worry could be a search for vulnerabilities in the electrical grid, Bloomberg reports. 

Among the targets was the Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas, which runs a nuclear power plant on a lake shore near Burlington, Kan.

A joint report from both intelligence agencies did not indicate whether the cyberattacks were intended to cause destruction or access industrial secrets.

But officials were worried enough to issue an urgent amber alert, the second-highest rating for a potential threat.

The possibility that Russia is involved has alarmed U.S. intelligence agencies because Russian hacker managed to disable parts of Ukraine’s electrical grid and are believed to be testing advance technology to disrupt power supplies.

Russian Cyberattacks on Election Systems Adds Pressure to Homeland Security

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Mounting evidence that Russia used cyberattacks to impact the presidential election has turned up the heat on Homeland Security to protect America’s democratic system from hackers.

Homeland Security officials told the Senate Intelligence Committee last week that they have evidence to suggest Russian operatives targeted election systems in 21 states.

The Hill reports that lawmakers are urging the department to help states protect their election systems. 

“I’m deeply concerned about the danger posed by future interference in our elections,” Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., the vice chairman of the intelligence panel, said Wednesday. “We have elections in 2018, but in my home state of Virginia, we have statewide elections this year. So this needs a sense of urgency.”

Senators asked Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to provide more details about the targeted election systems, including which states were targeted.

(D-Ore.). “We obviously need to know about vulnerabilities, so that we can find solutions, and we need better cybersecurity to protect elections from being hacked in the first place.”

Analysts: Robert Mueller’s Team Could Become Targets of Cyberattacks

cyberattack-hackers-fbiBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s high-powered team assembled to investigate the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election may become targets of cyberattacks by the very people they are investigating, analysts told the Washington Times.

That may help explain why some of the 13 attorneys on the team have yet to be identified. 

Intelligence agencies have said Russian operatives penetrated the system of the Democratic National Committee and the chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and targeted state election systems. So it’s no stretch to fear the hackers may try the same thing with Mueller’s team.

“There is no question that anyone involved in a matter this high profile is going to be a target for some sort of attempted cybersurveillance,” said R. David Edelman, director of the Project on Technology, Economy and National Security at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a former director of international cyberpolicy at the White House National Security Council.

Mueller is expected to add “several more” attorneys to his team. So far, officials have confirmed the identities of eight members of the team.

Special counsel spokesman Peter Carr declined to say what precautions that team is taking to head off a cyberattack.

“Naming these individuals publicly makes them targets,” Edelman said. “Every day you can delay, that helps protect them from adversaries — foreign and domestic.”

FBI Report Squarely Blames Russia for Meddling in 2016 Presidential Election

Russian Embassy in Washington D.C.

Russian Embassy in Washington D.C.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI issued its first statement on the cyberattacks targeting the 2016 presidential election, blaming Russian intelligence services for launching a broad hacking campaign.

In a 13-page report co-authored by Homeland Security, the FBI concluded that Russia’s foreign intelligence agency, the FSB, sent a malicious link to U.S. government targets, Reuters reports. 

Russia continues to deny the hacking claims.

The FBI’s report came on the same day President Obama imposed retaliatory measures, including the expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence operatives.

The FBI said the Democratic National Committee was among the targets. The DNC also was infiltrated by another Russian agency, the military GRU, in early 2016.

Even some Republicans criticized Russia’s meddling in the election. 

Homeland Security Detected No Evidence of Cyberattacks During Election

ballot box flintBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Fears that hackers would target the U.S. election were assuaged late Tuesday after no evidence of attacks or intrusions were suspected.

Homeland Security said it fielded no reports of cyber breaches, the USA Today reports. 

Still, the threat of a cyberattack appeared to discourage voters, who expressed much less confidence that their vote would count, according to exit polls.

“All the discussions this year about security gave states another measure of protection,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, a non-partisan, non-profit organization that advocates for elections accuracy.

Homeland Security Adviser: Hackers Largely Incapable of Compromising Election Systems

hacking By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Amid concerns about suspected Russian cyberattacks targeting Democrats, President Obama’s homeland security adviser said it would be very difficult to alter an election outcome by hacking America’s voting systems.

That’s because election systems, for the most part, aren’t connected to the Internet, said the adviser, Lisa Monaco, the Chicago Tribune reports. 

“That makes it extremely disparate, extremely diffuse and, as a consequence, extremely difficult to have an effect across the board that would result in a change in results,” Monaco said during a question-and-answer session.

To combat concerns about election tampering, the federal government is helping local election officials detect vulnerabilities and encrypt voter registration data.

“The efforts of malicious actors to intrude upon voter registration databases and other elements of our critical infrastructure, as well as our voting infrastructure” remain of concern, she said.

FBI Changing How it Assigns Agents to Handle Cyberattacks As Crackdown Intensifies

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

As the FBI steps up its crackdown on cyberattacks, the FBI is changing how it assigns agents to handle the crimes.

The Hill reports that the bureau will stop assigning agents to cyber crimes based on the location of the victim.

Instead, the most talented FBI divisions will handle the most serious cyberattacks, FBI Director James Comey said.

“Notions of traditional ‘my division, your division’ don’t really make sense in that environment,” Comey said at the Overseas Security Advisory Council annual briefing on Wednesday.

“For the first time at the FBI, we’re going to approach cyber by not being bound to traditional notions of area of responsibility,” he explained.

Each threat, Comey said, will be examined for its dangers and then will be assigned to up to four regional field offices to help the local hacking victims.

Comey said it’s a work-in-progress, and he’s open to suggestions.

“We’re going to try that,” he said. “We want to get feedback.”

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Informant’s Ties to Cyberattacks Abroad Raise Questions About Bureau’s Intentions

Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Is the FBI using hackers to gain access to intelligence overseas?

The New York Times reports that an FBI informant launched hundreds of cyberattacks on foreign websites, including ones run by other governments, even as the bureau tried to dismantle hacking groups like Anonymous.

New information indicates that the cyberattacks even targeted websites operated by Iran, Pakistan, Brazil and Syria.

What remains unclear is whether the FBI directly ordered the attacks, the Times wrote.

The mastermind behind the attacks was Hector Xavier Monsegur, a hacker within Anonymous, who was arrested and in exchange began working to help the FBI identify other members of the hacking group.

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST