Hack Attack

Cyberattacks target FERC, U.S. energy infrastructure

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is among the targets of alleged Iranian hackers indicted by the U.S. Justice Department on March 23. Nine members of an Iran-based company stole data from hundreds of universities and dozens of companies around the world, the DOJ said, acting in many cases on behalf of Iran’s government. The Department of Labor and state governments in Hawaii and Indiana were also targeted, according to the DOJ, which also said the hackers stole email accounts of employees at government agencies. Whether or not sensitive energy grid and power system information was compromised is not clear at this time, UtilityDive’s Gavin Bade reported.

The DOJ said members of the Mabna Institute, a Tehran-based company, stole more than 31 terabytes of data and intellectual property from universities, as well as “email accounts of employees at private sector companies, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations.”

In the U.S., the hacking affected more than 140 universities, 30 companies and five government agencies, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said. “For many of these intrusions, the defendants acted at the behest of the Iranian government and, specifically, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.”

At universities, hackers used stolen account credentials to “steal research, and other academic data and documents, including, among other things, academic journals, theses, dissertations, and electronic books.”

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Meanwhile, a more recent cyberattack shook parts of the U.S. pipeline industry and other energy infrastructure. A cyberattack on a shared data network forced four of the nation’s natural-gas pipeline operators to temporarily shut down computer communications with their customers over the last week, CNBC reported Thursday.

Pipeline industry leaders OneokEnergy Transfer PartnersBoardwalk Pipeline Partners, and Eastern Shore Natural Gas, a Chesapeake Utilities subsidiary, all reported communications system interruptions. CNBC reported that the attack’s likely target was Latitude Technologies, a Texas-based provider of electronic data-sharing between pipeline companies and their gas producer and utility customers.

Electrical Apparatus will be featuring a cybersecurity article in our Safety & Health department of the May 2018 issue.

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