An urgent amber warning (the 2nd highest rating) has gone into effect for some nuclear power plants. Among the companies that the hackers were targeting was Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation in Kansas.
So far there has been limited data. It is hard to say with confidence if the cyber attacks were aimed at stealing industrial secrets or to cause destruction, nor do we know exactly how many facilities were breached. But according to the report, the hackers appeared determined to map out computer networks for future attacks. What we do know, is nuclear power plants can be very vulnerable to cyber attacks and it is vital that they are secure and compliant to the latest in industry standards, such as NIST.
If security protocols are not properly in place, the chances of a hacker getting remote access to systems significantly intensifies. If some of these systems get damaged, it could lead to an explosion, fire or a spill of dangerous material. Other possible scenarios could include widespread electrical outages.
The Department of Homeland Security has called cyber attacks on critical infrastructure “one of the most serious national security challenges we must confront.”
According to the government report as told by NY Times, the hackers wrote highly targeted email messages containing fake resumes and sent them to the senior Industrial Control Engineers who had access to critical industrial control systems. Once they clicked on those Microsoft Word documents, attackers could steal their credentials and proceed to other machines on a network. They also deployed other means of attack through ‘watering hole attacks’ and ‘man-in-the-middle attacks.’
Highly skilled hackers took down the power grids twice in Ukraine over the past two years. Some think that the hackers were using Ukraine as a testing ground and laying the groundwork for future attacks on the United States. Neither attack in Ukraine caused long-term damage, however, if the theories are correct about mapping it out for future attacks, the blackouts in Ukraine may show what’s on the horizon for the United States if proper cyber security protocols are not taken seriously.
About Red Trident Inc
Red Trident Inc specializes in providing cyber security solutions for protecting and securing our Nation’s critical infrastructure’s and industrial control systems. We offer everything from vulnerability and compliance assessments to comprehensive cyber security program development. We even have a Cyber Security Operations Center (CSOC) that enables our Cyber Security Analysts to monitor, detect, contain and remediate any cyber threats across your network, system and devices. Red Trident is based out of Houston, Texas (the energy capital of the world), but we offer services all over the United States.