Multiple US nuclear plants hacked

Hackers breached a dozen American energy facilities

Cloud computing is also allowing SMEs to harness untapped digital potential in the region Ritchie Tongo/EPA
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At least a dozen US power plants were successfully targeted by cyber-attackers in May and June.

An urgent Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report indicated a foreign power, possibly Russia, was responsible, the New York Times said. The report graded the attack “amber”, the second-highest rating for the sensitivity of the threat.

This news, widely reported in the US media, comes as President Trump met President Putin face-to-face for the first time at the G20 summit.

The hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power stations and other energy and manufacturing facilities. The attacks have not been restricted to the United States.

The Wolf Creek nuclear facility in Kansas was among the plants targeted.

Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp declined to verify if the plant was hacked but said there had been "no operational impact" at the plant.

"The reason that is true is because the operational computer systems are completely separate from the corporate network," spokeswoman Jenny Hageman told Reuters.

The FBI and DHS have stated that there is no threat to public safety.

The hackers sent highly targeted emails to senior engineers at operating firms behind the nuclear plants, mimicking job applications but laced with malicious code, according to the New York Times.

Officials told the Times that the techniques resembles those used by Russian specialists linked to previous attacks on energy facilities.

It is not clear, nor is it stated in the report, whether the aim of the attack was espionage, to cause damage or to jump from their victims’ computers into the control systems of the facilities. It is also unclear how many facilities were breached.