A US security alert on Thursday contained a jarring warning: Russia has infiltrated the US energy grid and could wreak havoc if it chose to do so. "They have the ability to shut the power off," an exec with the digital security firm Symantec tells the New York Times. "All that's missing is some political motivation." The alert from the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI says hackers working on behalf of the Russian government got into the systems of nuclear, water, and electrical plants, as well as "critical manufacturing sectors," and essentially poked around to figure out how things operated. Related details and developments:
- When: The feds say these "Russian government cyber actors" began the operation in March 2016, possibly earlier, reports Reuters. It's described as an "ongoing campaign."
- How: The hackers used standard techniques such as spear-phishing emails to obtain personal passwords of individuals, often those who were "peripherally related" to the primary targets, explains Gizmodo. Think contractors. The US didn't identify specific targets, but Bloomberg reports that a nuclear plant in Kansas was among them, though the hackers were not believed to have gotten into its control networks.