DHS: Russian hackers got into control rooms of US utilities

DHS: Russian hackers got into control rooms of US utilities

Russian hackers were able to penetrate the control rooms of hundreds of U.S. utilities last year as part of a campaign against power company vendors that could be ongoing, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

Officials with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) told the Journal that hackers working for a state-sponsored group known as Dragonfly or Energetic Bear were able to get inside the networks of U.S. utilities to the point that they could have disrupted power service and caused blackouts.

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“They got to the point where they could have thrown switches” said Jonathan Homer, chief of industrial control system analysis for DHS.

The department did not disclose which companies were victimized by the hacks but indicated there were hundreds affected by the breach. Other companies reportedly may still be unaware they were part of the breach because the hackers may have broken in using employee credentials. 

The U.S. government had previously accused Russia of staging a multiyear cyberattack campaign against the energy grid and other elements of critical infrastructure in the United States.

It said the effort dated back to at least early 2016 and focused on networks belonging to small commercial facilities with the goal of working up toward larger energy companies.

The newly disclosed details of the Russian campaign comes amid growing concerns about Moscow's efforts to interfere in the 2018 midterm elections.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE has endured a week of criticism from Republicans and Democrats after he stood next to Russian President Vladimir Putin in Finland and cast doubt on whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

He later walked back the statement and expressed confidence in the intelligence community's conclusion that Russia did interfere, though he added that it could have been others besides Russia that did so.

Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray Coats10 declassified Russia collusion revelations that could rock Washington this fall 11 Essential reads you missed this week Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE warned shortly before Trump met with Putin that "warning lights are blinking red" to indicate that Russia is preparing to launch another campaign to interfere in U.S. elections.