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 TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values 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 CoatsListen, learn and lead: Congressional newcomers should leave the extremist tactics at home The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s attorney general pick passes first test Dems zero in on Trump and Russia 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.