fog.png
Friday May 29th, 2020 10:32AM

US says Russia hacked energy grid, punishes 19 for meddling

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Pushing back harder on Russia, the Trump administration accused Moscow on Thursday of a concerted hacking operation targeting the U.S. energy grid, aviation systems and other infrastructure, and also imposed sanctions on Russians for alleged interference in the 2016 election.

It was the strongest action to date against Russia by the administration, which has long been accused of being too soft on the Kremlin, and the first punishments for election meddling since President Donald Trump took office. The sanctions list included the 13 Russians indicted last month by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose Russia investigation the president has repeatedly sought to discredit.

U.S. national security officials said the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and intelligence agencies had determined that Russian intelligence and others were behind a broad range of cyberattacks beginning a year ago that have infiltrated the energy, nuclear, commercial, water, aviation and manufacturing sectors.

The officials said the Russian hackers chose their targets, obtained access to computer systems, conducted "network reconnaissance" of systems that control key elements of the U.S. economy and then attempted to cover their tracks by deleting evidence of their infiltration.

The U.S. government has helped the industries kick out the Russians from all systems currently known to have been penetrated, according to the officials, but the efforts continue. The officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security information, left open the possibility of discovering more breaches, and said the federal government was issuing an alert to the energy industry to raise awareness about the threat and improve preparation.

That alert, published online by Homeland Security, said the hacking effort was a "multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors who targeted small commercial facilities' networks" to gain access and plant malware, which was then used to monitor activity as well as to move laterally into other, larger industrial control systems.

It also said the hackers exploited open-source material from companies' public websites to mine seemingly innocuous information that was later used to infiltrate networks. In one case, the alert said, hackers downloaded a small image from a company's human resources page that when blown up was actually "a high-resolution photo that displayed control systems equipment models and status information in the background."

The accusations and accompanying Russian sanctions were the most severe yet by the Trump administration in connection with hacking and other efforts to sow discord in America's democracy and compromise its infrastructure.

Also Thursday, President Donald Trump, who has been publicly skeptical of the election allegations, joined the leaders of Britain, France and Germany in a joint statement blaming Moscow for the poisoning of an ex-Russian spy who was living in England.

Reaction from Russia was swift.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Moscow was greeting the sanctions calmly, but he warned that Russia had already started "to prepare a response." He suggested the Trump administration had timed the sanctions to come ahead of this weekend's presidential election in Russia, in which President Vladimir Putin is expected to win an overwhelming victory.

"It is tied to U.S. internal disorder, tied of course to our electoral calendar," Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency Tass.

The list of Russians now under U.S. sanctions includes the 13 indicted last month by U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller as part of his Russia-related investigation into alleged election interference. The sanctions are the first use of the new powers that Congress passed last year to punish Moscow for meddling in an election that Trump won over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. He said others would face punishment in the future under the new sanctions law "to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities."

Altogether, 19 Russians were cited. Also sanctioned were five Russian companies, including the Internet Research Agency, which is accused of orchestrating a mass online disinformation campaign to affect the presidential election result.

The U.S. Treasury Department announced the sanctions amid withering criticism accusing Trump and his administration of failing to use its congressionally mandated authority to punish Russia. The sanction targets include officials working for the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.

Thursday's action freezes any assets the individuals and entities may have in the United States and bars Americans from doing business with them.

The Treasury Department said the GRU and Russia's military both interfered in the 2016 election and were "directly responsible" for the NotPetya cyberattack that hit businesses across Europe in June 2017, causing billions of dollars in damage by disrupting global shipping, trade and medicine production. It noted that the attack caused several U.S. hospitals to be unable to create electronic medical records for more than a week.

Among those affected was Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is known as "Putin's chef" and who ran the St. Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency, and 12 of the agency's employees. They were included in Mueller's indictment last month.

The agency "tampered with, altered or caused a misappropriation of information with the purpose or effect of interfering with or undermining election processes and institutions," specifically the 2016 U.S. presidential race.

"The IRA created and managed a vast number of fake online personas that posed as legitimate U.S. persons to include grass-roots organizations, interest groups and a state political party on social media," the Treasury Department statement said. "Through this activity, the IRA posted thousands of ads that reached millions of people online."

The sanctions also affect the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, and six of its employees for cyberattacks more broadly, including those targeting Russian journalists, opposition figures, foreign politicians and U.S. officials. The Americans include members of the diplomatic corps, the military and White House staffers.

___

Reach Matthew Lee on Twitter at http://twitter.com/APDiploWriter and Josh Lederman at http://twitter.com/joshledermanAP

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Presidential Election News, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Man gets 30 years for road rage killing of ex-NFL player
The man convicted of manslaughter in the 2016 road rage shooting death of former NFL running back Joe McKnight has been sentenced to 30 years in prison
1:19PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Doctors to examine US man sought by Poland in Nazi case
Prosecutors in Poland say that U.S. justice authorities have chosen three medical experts to check whether a 99-year-old Minnesota man can be extradited to Poland and stand trial there on charges of participation in a World War II massacre
1:18PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Austria deports Afghan sisters, children based on EU ruling
Two Afghan sisters and their three young children have been deported by Austria to Croatia after a landmark European Court of Justice ruling
1:15PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
The Latest: Video shows officer outside during massacre
Security video shows a Florida sheriff's deputy go toward the high school building while a gunman massacred 17 students and staff members, but he stayed outside with his handgun drawn
12:46PM ( 40 minutes ago )
Georgia plans to execute man known as 'stocking strangler'
Georgia is planning to execute an inmate called the "stocking strangler," who was convicted of raping and killing older women in attacks that terrorized a small city in the western part of the state decades ago
12:45PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Renowned pediatrician Dr. T. Berry Brazelton dies at age 99
Renowned pediatrician and author Dr. T. Berry Brazelton has died at age 99
12:33PM ( 53 minutes ago )
AP National News
Video of events outside school shooting to be released
Authorities were set to release surveillance video Thursday showing what happened outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the Valentine's Day massacre that killed 17 people
11:45AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Trump: 'It looks like' Russia poisoned ex-spy
President Donald Trump says "it looks like" Russia was responsible for the poisoning of a Russian ex-spy in England
11:34AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Syria Kurdish town residents flee Turkey advance
Hundreds of residents of the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria under Turkish assault are trickling out of Afrin's center toward neighboring villages amid an intensifying offensive
10:59AM ( 2 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Canada citing US own stats on trade surplus
Canada is weighing in after President Donald Trump is said to have insisted that the United States runs a trade deficit with Canada
12:49PM ( 37 minutes ago )
The Latest: Prominent Russian scoffs at new US sanctions
A prominent Russian targeted by new U.S. sanctions has mocked the penalties, and says he'll respond by boycotting McDonald's
12:44PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Veterans chief Shulkin says he has no intention of quitting
Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, under fire for ethics violations, says he has no intention of leaving his job even as his standing with President Donald Trump erodes and the White House floats names of possible replacements
12:41PM ( 45 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
The Latest: Turkey rejects calls to end Syria offensive
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is rejecting calls in Europe for his country to halt its military offensive in a Syrian Kurdish-held enclave
9:31AM ( 3 hours ago )
Adults: It's your move, students say after historic walkouts
Tens of thousands of students around the US have staged one of the biggest student walkouts in decade, demanding action against gun violence weeks after 17 were killed in a school shooting rampage in Florida
8:37AM ( 4 hours ago )
Energy's Perry: No interest in heading Veterans Affairs
Energy Secretary Rick Perry says he's not interested in becoming the Veterans Affairs secretary, a position the White House is hinting might be open sooner rather than later
8:28AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Egypt's president ready to join fight against militants
Egypt's president says he's ready to personally join fight against Islamic militants
12:51PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Sports stars line up behind Putin, though some disagree
Most, but not all, of Russia's top sports stars are backing Vladimir Putin in this weekend's presidential election
9:31AM ( 3 hours ago )
Kremlin: Spy scandal won't disrupt presidential election
Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman says a mushrooming diplomatic scandal over the poisoning of an ex-spy Britain won't disrupt Russia's presidential election
7:10AM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Elections
Pence to lay out administration views on Latin America
Pence to lay administration views on Latin America, push for pressure on Venezuela
4:57PM ( 20 hours ago )
Pennsylvania takeaways: GOP reaches for the panic button
Pennsylvania takeaways: The GOP reaches for the panic button as another special election signals Democratic surge
2:47PM ( 22 hours ago )
The Latest: Provisional ballots unlikely to change outcome
County officials say they don't expect big changes in Democrat Conor Lamb's narrow lead in a Pennsylvania congressional race as provisional and military ballots are added to the totals
11:52AM ( 1 day ago )
General Presidential Election News
Hungary's Orban: Western Europe is under migrant invasion
Hungary's prime minister has painted an apocalyptic view of Western Europe, saying it is under a migrant invasion which will soon make a minority of native-born Europeans
12:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
NATO's chief says allies are spending more on defense
NATO's chief says European members and Canada spent almost 5 percent more on defense last year than 2016, as U.S. President Donald Trump insists that they boost military budgets
11:49AM ( 1 hour ago )
Senior Kurdish official, key to US policy in Syria, killed
Authorities say senior Kurdish official who played key role with the U.S. in implementing post-Islamic State group policy in northern Syria found dead in his apartment
11:43AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP World News
US stock indexes climb higher after two days of losses
US stocks move up after two days of losses, with some of the biggest gains going to technology, industrial and health care companies
11:47AM ( 1 hour ago )
Long-term US mortgage rates fall for first time this year
Long-term US mortgage rates fall for first time this year; 30-year at 4.44 percent
11:34AM ( 1 hour ago )
Builders optimism slides for third consecutive month
Builders optimism gets nicked as mortgage rates push higher
10:47AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Senate passes bill easing Dodd-Frank rules for banks
The Senate has passed bipartisan legislation easing bank rules that were enacted after the financial crisis to prevent a relapse
7:59PM ( 17 hours ago )
Banks, industrials fall as trade tensions hit stocks again
US stocks fall as banks sink along with interest rates and industrial companies decline as investors worry about rising trade tensions
4:30PM ( 20 hours ago )
Iran signs $740 million agreement on oil project
Iran's state-run oil company has signed a $740 million agreement with a Russian-Iranian consortium to develop two oil fields near the Iraqi border
2:27PM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
February retail sales fall 0.1 pct; few signs of tax bump
US retail sales slipped 0.1 percent in February; fewer sales at auto dealers and gas stations
8:51AM ( 1 day ago )
US retail sales fell 0.1 percent in February
US retail sales slipped 0.1 percent in February; fewer sales at auto dealers and gas stations
8:42AM ( 1 day ago )
Zinke defends plan to raise park fees amid flap over travel
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke bristles under questioning about his spending on travel as the Trump administration seeks deep cuts to conservation programs and fee increases at national parks.
7:19PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Man gets 30 years for road rage killing of ex-NFL player
The man convicted of manslaughter in the 2016 road rage shooting death of former NFL running back Joe McKnight has been sentenced to 30 years in prison
1:19PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Doctors to examine US man sought by Poland in Nazi case
Prosecutors in Poland say that U.S. justice authorities have chosen three medical experts to check whether a 99-year-old Minnesota man can be extradited to Poland and stand trial there on charges of participation in a World War II massacre
1:18PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Austria deports Afghan sisters, children based on EU ruling
Two Afghan sisters and their three young children have been deported by Austria to Croatia after a landmark European Court of Justice ruling
1:15PM ( 11 minutes ago )
The Latest: Wichita hosting NCAAs for first time since 1994
Wichita hosting NCAA for first time since 1994
1:12PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Radio giant iHeartMedia files bankruptcy plan to reduce debt
IHeartMedia, one of the world's largest radio and billboard companies, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
1:05PM ( 21 minutes ago )