'Advanced' Grid Hackers Targeting Nuclear Plants

Energywire, by Blake Sobczak, July 7, 2017

A sophisticated group of hackers has taken aim at U.S. energy, nuclear and manufacturing firms in recent weeks. Cyberattacks recently breached a dozen or more U.S. power plants, including conventional and nuclear generators. The Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. was among the companies targeted by the hacking campaign. That company, jointly owned by three different energy firms, runs a nuclear power facility near Burlington, Kansas. The North American Electric Reliability Corp. has warned grid operators about an "advanced persistent threat," which is jargon for a well-resourced hacking campaign typically backed by a nation-state. Bloomberg reports that Russia is a chief suspect in the hacking, though some analysts warn attribution is premature. The NERC alert came on the heels of a separate report from the Department of Homeland Security and FBI. That document outlined active hacking threats to the nuclear, electricity and manufacturing industries, among others. Lloyd's of London has estimated the potential impacts of a successful attack on the U.S. power grid, and concluded the total economic loss could range from $243 billion up to $1 trillion in the most damaging scenarios.