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Unsealed Indictments Show Russian Government Hackers Targeted US/Chinese Infrastructure

The following article, Unsealed Indictments Show Russian Government Hackers Targeted US/Chinese Infrastructure, was first published on Flag And Cross.

On Thursday, unsealed indictments from the FBI confirmed that US infrastructure is in immediate danger of an attack. The indictments named four Russian government employees that the FBI claim had a role in two “Historical Hacking Campaigns.” 

The indictments show that the Russians targeted both the hardware and software related to infrastructure operational technology systems. The 4 named defendants were involved in an operation that was, “attempting, supporting and conducting computer intrusions that together, in two separate conspiracies, targeted the global energy sector between 2012 and 2018.”

Although these indictments come as no surprise, some of the details of the indictment certainly call into question the recent partnership agreement between America’s 2 greatest geopolitical foes, Russia and China

The indictment shows that Russia had penetrated Chinese infrastructure in the past and now the question of whether China can even trust Russia is something to consider as the unhinged Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to make strategic miscalculations. 

At this point, after seeing Russia’s international condemnation, the Chinese government should reconsider whether it wants to join a fight with the rest of the free world over Vladimir Putin’s feverish obsessions to reclaim Ukraine.

These new indictments also show that the Russians had attacked European Union (EU) and NATO countries, with strong American allies the United Kingdom and Ireland also being named as victims of Russian cybercrime, along with Saudi Arabia. 

The first indictment, The United States v. Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh, indicates that the defendant installed backdoors against victims in an effort to launch Triton malware, a strain of malicious code that can compromise the safety of energy facilities utilizing industrial control systems (ICS). 

In this kind of an attack, energy refineries can be manipulated to operate in an unsafe manner while appearing to be operating correctly. The indictment claimed that this was to grant “the defendant and his co-conspirators the ability to cause damage to the refinery, injury to anyone nearby, and economic harm.”

The 2nd set of charges indicates that an attempt was made by 3 Russians to manipulate ICS or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems. In the other indictment, Russian hackers Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, Mikhail Mikhailovich Gavrilov, and Marat Valeryevich Tyukov, who happen to be members of the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) Center 16, coordinated new supply chain attacks in an effort to further the Russian government’s attempts to “maintain surreptitious, unauthorized and persistent access to the computer networks of companies and organizations in the international energy sector, including oil and gas firms, nuclear power plants, and utility and power transmission companies.”

These attacks vary from the ones Americans are more familiar with, including the 2021 Colonial Pipeline and JBS Foods hacks that targeted the east coast of the US’s oil supply as well as the country’s meat supply chains.

Those were executed by Russia-based state-sponsored Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) gangs that are affiliated with the Kremlin. Those gangs use ransomware to demand millions from victims. These types of attacks continues regularly but were merely seeking to cause a temporary halt to operations, versus the incredible destruction that is possible when hackers attack SCADA or ICS systems. 

With no immediate exit strategy for the Ukraine war in sight, the still-determined Russian leadership will likely continue to initiate cyber-attacks against the world. With Biden’s commentary that was immediately and embarrassingly contradicted by staffers, that Putin “cannot remain in power,” the United States, as well as the rest of the planet, needs to brace for more devastating attacks in the immediate future. 


Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, the Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. His writing, which is focused on cybersecurity and politics, has been published by numerous websites and he is regularly seen on National and International news programming.

 

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