Report: Russian Hackers Appear to Eye US Power Grids, Not Elections

Report: Russian Hackers Appear to Eye US Power Grids, Not Elections

State-sponsored Russian hackers appear to have a greater interest in the U.S. power grid than meddling in the fall midterm elections since reports indicate that so far only two Senate Democrats up for re-election had online accounts tampered with, The New York Times reported Friday.

There’s little evidence of Russian military hackers in U.S. elections or state election systems, U.S. intelligence officials and representatives from technology companies maintain, but report there has been quite a lot of evidence pointing to foreign agents implanting malware on electric grids across the country.  

The Department of Homeland Security revealed this week Russia’s military intelligence agency had infiltrated power plant control rooms across the U.S., citing “hundreds of victims.” However, there is no indication any efforts were made to actually disrupt U.S. power systems.

It appears hackers gained access through a network of power plant contractors, perhaps for the sole purpose of showing that they could succeed. The White House has said little about the claims, according to the Times, except to stress the administration’s efforts to provide cyber security to state and local elections systems.  

Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, said in a presentation at the Aspen Forum earlier this month he had set up a Russia “small group,” the Times reported. He did not elaborate on what role it played in defending government networks or offensively conducting covert operations.

As for infiltrating midterm elections, Microsoft officials reported last week they detected an intrusion into two congressional staff offices last fall. One of the lawmakers affected was Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. The company did not identify the other lawmaker affected by the hacking.

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