A destructive malware program has been inserted into software used to run essential U.S. infrastructure, including water distribution systems, power transmission grids, and oil and gas pipelines, according to the Homeland Security Department, which says it could trigger an economic catastrophe.
"National security sources" say there is evidence that Russian government-supported hackers planted the malware, ABC News
While Homeland Security officials say the hacking campaign has been ongoing for three years, no effort has yet been made to activate the "Trojan Horse" malware to damage U.S. infrastructure. So, while U.S. officials are aware that the penetration has occurred, they don’t know when or where it will be used against the United States.
The malware, called BlackEnergy, is similar to tools used by Russian hackers targeting NATO and some European telecommunications and energy firms earlier this year.
It is spread through emails purportedly sent by an anti-Moscow politician in Ukraine, Dmitri Alperovitch of CrowdStrike, a firm monitoring cybersecurity threats, told The Hill
Other security analysts said BlackEnergy was part of ongoing Russian efforts to probe U.S. networks for weaknesses while gleaning valuable intelligence information about the nation’s infrastructure.
The campaign “seemed to be more of a probing” effort aimed at determining what the Russians could learn using relatively basically malware, according to Darien Kindlund, director of threat research at FireEye, a cyberintelligence company.
In an interview with The Hill, Kindlund termed the Russian operation a possible “staging attack” aimed at probing “for something larger” down the road.
Kindlund said his major concern was the fact that the malware inserted into U.S. computers went “undetected for so long.”
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