Hackers are targeting nuclear power plant operators in the US

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Unidentified hackers have been targeting the networks of companies responsible for operating nuclear power plants in the US for the last two months, according to The New York Times. Citing a joint report issued by both the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI some time last week, The Times’ story identifies one target as the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, a facility responsible for overseeing the operation of a nuclear power plant outside Burlington, Kansas. The report also states that energy companies and manufacturing plants are also being targeted, yet none are identified by name.

The severity of the attacks remain unclear, as does the motive for the cyberattacks. Hackers may be interested in stealing US infrastructure trade secrets, or in causing disruption to the operation of energy facilities. It’s also not clear whether more than one facility responsible for a nuclear power plant has been successfully breached, or if employees of Wolf Creek are the only victims thus far.

The joint report indicated that “there is no indication hackers had been able to jump from their victims’ computers into the control systems of the facilities,” according to The Times. Wolf Creek officials also confirmed to The Times that its “operations systems” are kept separate from the computer network of the facility, preventing cyberattacks like this from allowing hackers to directly control power plant systems.

Still, the hack is a serious cause for concern. The joint report suggests that the hackers are interested in mapping out the computer networks to inform potential future attacks. These attacks focused on employees who have direct access to systems that could cause environmental disasters like toxic waste spills and fires. It doesn’t appear that the group or individuals involved have been able to get past the individual computers of these industrial control engineers — yet.

Comments

This is why I’m not a nuclear power plant operator.

All it takes is one Homer Simpson…

Why trust the Trump administration on anything?

… really? That’s all you chose to bring to the conversation?

Stop trying to make everything about Trump.

comic relief!

ThisIsFine.gif #MAGA

The joint report indicated that "there is no indication hackers had been able to jump from their victims’ computers into the control systems of the facilities," according to The Times. Wolf Creek officials also confirmed to The Times that its "operations systems" are kept separate from the computer network of the facility, preventing cyberattacks like this from allowing hackers to directly control power plant systems.

TL;DR: The security measures in place are doing exactly what they were supposed to do and this was just fishing for a good story

Welcome to the Verge of late.

That’s some hubris there. "Nothing happened so there’s no story." Willfully ignoring that a targeted intrusion, likely state sponsored, happened at critical U.S. infrastructure. While this intrusion wasn’t successful there’s no guarantee that other infrastructure will fare so well.

I’ve just finished watching season 4 of 24 (I know, well behind the times, but there’s so much TV, films, books, games…). Was there a train crash recently? Are the nuclear weapons secure? Life imitating art…

…and the CIA would still prefer to sit on 0days instead of disclosing them to software companies…

These could be very lucrative targets. Isn’t STUXNET out in the wild nowadays, and a whole bunch of other nasties, thanks to our (tragi-)comically bumbling intelligence and national "security" people?

I mean, you could hold whole cities at ransom by hacking a nuclear plant and demand billions of dollars…right out of a 007 or Batman movie… When you think of it, it is pretty scary.

It would make sense to have no computers involved in controlling nuclear power plants, if that would be possible. Just keep it to men operating things manually….I mean, why not?

What would make more sense is to do away with nuclear power altogether…

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