Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Utilities Cautioned About Potential for a Cyberattack After Ukraine’s

By DAVID E. SANGER, NYT
FEB. 29, 2016

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has warned the nation’s power companies, water suppliers and transportation networks that sophisticated cyberattack techniques used to bring down part of Ukraine’s power grid two months ago could easily be turned on them.

After an extensive inquiry, American investigators concluded that the attack in Ukraine on Dec. 23 may well have been the first power blackout triggered by a cyberattack — a circumstance many have long predicted. Working remotely, the attackers conducted “extensive reconnaissance” of the power system’s networks, stole the credentials of system operators and learned how to switch off the breakers, plunging more than 225,000 Ukrainians into darkness.

In interviews, American officials said they have not completed their inquiry into who was responsible for the attack. But Ukrainian officials have blamed the Russians, saying it was part of the effort to intimidate the country’s political leaders by showing they could switch off the lights at any time.

“They could be right,” said one senior administration official. “But so far we don’t have the complete evidence, and the attackers went to some lengths to hide their tracks.”

Even after it has reached a conclusion, the White House might decide not to name the attackers, just as it decided not to publicly blame China for the theft of 22 million security files from the Office of Personnel Management.

(More here.)

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