Nuclear and other energy providers have been warned by FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials of potential hacking
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security stated on Friday that hackers attempted to break into the networks of certain energy facilities, but there was no threat to public safety. The facilities were not identified.
The D.H.S. and F.B.I. often advise private sector facilities and businesses about potential cyber security threats, as well as how to decrease network vulnerability to hacking.
The statement came out after several news agencies reported on potential hacking threats to nuclear and electrical energy providing facilities.
In a statement made by the Nuclear Energy Institute last week, they said that no nuclear reactors were affected – and that if any facilities had suffered a severe cyber-attack, a report would have to be made to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
There has long since been fear in the United States over terrorists, hackers, or other nefarious groups interfering with nuclear facilities.
Although there is no threat to public safety, hackers could still cause havoc
Nuclear engineer and director of the nuclear safety project at the Union of Concerned Scientists David Lochbaum stated that nuclear safety systems are generally impossible to breach. However, the hackers were targeting the administration and business networks.
Lochbaum went on to say that these networks still contain vulnerable information, like the schedule of employees and maintenance checks, and that hackers always attempt “to exploit [weaknesses in the system] and get as much information as possible.”
Information accumulated from vulnerable systems could be used as part of a larger attack on a facility, Lochbaum says. One of the greatest risks would be hackers interrupting or causing a malfunction in the offsite power grid, which could cause a huge economic disruption.