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Hackers targeting power plants, warn Federal Bureau of Investigation and Dept. of Homeland Security

07 July 2017

Unidentified hackers have been targeting the networks of companies responsible for operating nuclear power plants in the U.S. for the last two months, according to The New York Times.

The attacks have been occurring since May, The New York Times reported, and one company targeted was the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp., which manages a nuclear power plant near Burlington, Kan.

A spokeswoman for the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation declined to comment on the cyberattack but said there was "absolutely no operational impact" on the facility because corporate and operational networks are kept separate.

According to the government report, the severity of the cyberattacks is still unclear, as is their motive.

The report did not specify if the attacks were aimed at industrial espionage or causing damage.

The report indicated that "there is no indication hackers had been able to jump from their victims' computers into the control systems of the facilities", according to The Times.

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The agencies said on Thursday that there is no current threat to the public.

It was also not clear from where or who the attacks stemmed.

The report concludes, however, that the pirates were "determined to map the computer networks (of the companies referred to) in view of future attacks".

Sources emphasize that it's still early in the investigation and that the case is ongoing. The Department of Homeland Security has called cyberattacks on critical infrastructure "one of the most serious national security challenges we must confront". The hackers behind the effort are believed to be working for a foreign government, the chief suspect being Russian Federation, sources told Bloomberg.

On May 11, during the attacks, President Trump signed an executive order to strengthen the cybersecurity defenses of federal networks and critical infrastructure.

Hackers targeting power plants, warn Federal Bureau of Investigation and Dept. of Homeland Security