Report: Cyberattacks targeted US nuclear sites this year
It remains unclear whether the nuclear cyberattacks in the U.S. are connected to the ransomware in Europe, but the events ratchet up the stakes for the electric power industry regardless.
Tuesday afternoon, malware was infecting computers around Europe and some in the United States. So far, the virus has forced decommissioning activities to be halted at the Chernobyl site, and has impacted banks, airlines and a wide range of corporations.
Ukraine appeared among those hardest hit, with The New York Times reporting the national power grid company Kievenergo “had to switch off all of its computers because of the attack,” though the company now has the situation under control.
Russian hackers were behind a cyberattack on the Ukrainian grid in 2015, but the Times reports that its firms were targets of this recent round of malware as well, with energy giant Rosnoft also affected.
That news came alongside a new report from E&E saying multiple nuclear generation sites were targeted by hackers this year. The news outlet has not yet identified any generator that has been impacted and reports much of the information may be classified.
A spokeswoman for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation told the outlet that the group “is working closely with the government to better understand any implications this incident might have for the electricity industry.”
The news organization said it reached out to almost two dozen nuclear plant owners, but said most offered little comment.
The Ukraine attack in 2015 resulted in a widespread power outage, but so far the United States has been able to keep its system protected. However, the report from Dragos indicated that same software could be modified to attack domestic power systems.