U.S. electric utilities were hacked by Russian hackers in 2017

According to officials from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Russian state-sponsored group known as Energetic Bear which also goes by the name of Dragonfly, have claimed “hundreds of victims” in 2017, which include U.S. electric utilities.

As per a report from the Wall Street Journal, in 2017 Russian hackers had been able to gain access to the networks of U.S. electric utilities. According to officials from the federal government, this level of access could have allowed them to cause blackouts.

According to officials from the Department of Homeland Security, hackers working for a Russian state-sponsored group known as Energetic Bear or as Dragonfly have claimed “hundreds of victims” last year.

As per the WSJ report, hackers used spear-phishing emails and watering hole attacks to trick victims into providing their passwords, which they then used to gain access to the corporate networks of U.S. electric suppliers.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security did not respond to a request for comment outside regular business hours.

The DHS plans to conduct 4 briefings on the attacks and is looking for evidence that the Russian hacking campaign tried to automate their hacking attacks against the networks of U.S. electric suppliers.

Citing the SWJ report, investigators say, it is not clear whether this was done in preparation for a bigger future attack.

The WSJ report comes midst increasing cyber tensions between the United States and Russia. In July, a federal grand jury in the U.S. had indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers on charges of hacking the computer networks of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, in 2016.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 Presidential elections and whether the campaign of Republican candidate Donald Trump colluded with the Russians. While Moscow has denied meddling in the elections, Trump has denied any collusion as well.

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