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Hackers Targeting Nuclear Facilities, Government Report Says

Image: Hackers Targeting Nuclear Facilities, Government Report Says

The Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant is seen in the early morning hours March 28, 2011, in Middletown, Pennsylvania. (Jeff Fusco/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 07 Jul 2017 09:16 AM

Hackers are now targeting nuclear facilities in the United States and other countries, but there is no indication — yet — that they have reached the control system to any plants, according to a government report.

Hackers have been able to get into the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power facilities and other energy facilities, The New York Times reported Thursday. Security experts confirmed to the Times that they have helped companies respond to the cyberattacks.

The report, issued by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI last week, said Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp., which oversees the nuclear plant in Burlington, Kansas, is among the facilities attacked, the Times noted.

Authorities said in the report that they are not sure how many plants were breached. Wolf Creek officials said the internet is kept separate from the network that runs the plant.

"There is no indication of a threat to public safety, as any potential impact appears to be limited to administrative and business networks," a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said in a joint statement with the FBI, according to the Times.

According to Bloomberg News, the Department of Energy also confirmed that the impact from hackers appeared to be limited. The department said that it was working with utilities and grid operators to strengthen security and resilience.

"Regardless of whether malicious actors attempt to exploit business networks or operational systems, we take any reports of malicious cyber activity potentially targeting our nation's energy infrastructure seriously and respond accordingly," the Department of Energy told Bloomberg in a statement.

Homeland Security and the FBI said that they were concerned about the "persistence" of the attacks, meaning that hackers could be trying to create backdoors to the plants' systems for future attacks, wrote Bloomberg News.

Galina Antova, co-founder of New York-based Claroty, which specializes in securing industrial control systems, told Bloomberg News that those backdoors could be used to incorporate software specifically designed to penetrate a facility's operational controls and disrupt critical systems.

"We're moving to a point where a major attack like this is very, very possible," Antova said, according to Bloomberg. "Once you're into the control systems – and you can get into the control systems by hacking into the plant’s regular computer network – then the basic security mechanisms you’d expect are simply not there."

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Hackers are now targeting nuclear facilities in the United States and other countries, but there is no indication — yet — that they have reached the control system to any plants, according to a government report.
hackers, targeting, nuclear, facilities
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2017-16-07
Friday, 07 Jul 2017 09:16 AM
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