FBI names Russian hackers wanted over nuclear plant attacks Science and technology news


The FBI has accused four Russians of hacking energy companies around the world “using techniques designed to enable future physical damage with potentially catastrophic results.”

Two unsealed indictments allege the men worked Russiawhile between 2012 and 2018 it targeted hundreds of victims in more than 135 countries including the UK, Ireland and even China.

According to Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco, the hackers are accused of breaking into and threatening critical infrastructure “both in the United States and around the world” and there is a reward of up to $10 million (7, 5 million pounds) for information on each of them you.

Read more: US warns companies to prepare for Russian cyberattacks

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Russia alleges cyber attack on Ukraine

Four men charged on two counts

The first was against Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh, who allegedly worked for the Russian Defense Ministry.

The second against Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, Mikhail Mikhailovich Gavrilov and Marat Valeryevich Tyukov, who are accused of working for the Russian security services.

The attack could have killed people

Among the attacks was one that targeted a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia with malware that the UK’s National Cyber ​​Security Center said was “specifically designed to attack the planet’s security bypass”.

The NCSC said the malware “had the ability to cause significant effects, potentially including the release of toxic gas or an explosion – either of which could have resulted in loss of life and physical damage to the facility.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Britain would sanction a subsidiary of the Russian Defense Ministry in the wake of the attack on the Saudi plant.

NCSC added that it was “almost certain” that hackers from Center 16 of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) – the successor organization to the KGB – were behind numerous hacking campaigns.

Alongside the group’s activities, British energy companies and “the press secretary of Mikhail Khodorkovskiy, a UK-based longtime critic of the Kremlin, were targeted and monitored a website he set up to expose corruption in the Russian government”.

Center 16 was also accused of compromising the business network (but not the operational network) at the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant in Kansas.

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JANUARY 23: A view of the General Office of the FSB (KGB) building on January 23, 2006 in Moscow, Russia.  Russian authorities have accused four British diplomats of involvement in espionage, who allegedly used a secret transmitter hidden in an artificial rock to broadcast sensitive information.  (Photo by Oleg Klimov/Getty Images)
The FSB is based in the old KGB building in Moscow

Hacking for future contingencies

John Hultquist, vice president of intelligence analysis at cybersecurity firm Mandiant, noted that the charges come amid growing concerns about Russian cyberattacks linked to the invasion of Ukraine.

Although the hackers were not spotted performing disruptive attacks, they were seen “burrowing into sensitive critical infrastructure for future contingencies,” he said.

“Our concern in light of recent events is that this may be the contingency we have been waiting for,” added Mr. Hultquist.

“While the criminal complaints unsealed today reflect past activity, they highlight the urgent need for American companies to step up their defenses and remain vigilant,” Ms. Monaco said.

Mr Hultquist said the charges were a “warning shot” for Kremlin hackers: “These actions are personal and intended to signal to everyone working for these programs that they cannot leave Russia anytime soon.”

The Russian Federation has consistently denied involvement in cyberattacks claimed by the US, UK and allies.

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