U.S. Sanctions Russian Firms for Energy Grid Cyberattack

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. imposed new sanctions Monday on Russian firms and individuals for helping the country’s state security service conduct cyberattacks targeting the American energy grid and other key infrastructure.

Russian hackers conducted a broad assault on the U.S. electric grid, air transportation facilities and other infrastructure since at least March 2016, the Homeland Security Department and FBI warned in March. The attacks are still ongoing, according to a person familiar with the matter.

At least a dozen U.S. power plants -- including one nuclear facility -- have been breached as part of the coordinated attacks, Bloomberg reported last year.

The Treasury Department designated five entities and three individuals for technological support and other help to Russia’s Federal Security Service.

“The entities designated today have directly contributed to improving Russia’s cyber and underwater capabilities through their work with the FSB and therefore jeopardize the safety and security of the United States and our allies,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement released Monday.

The designations include Digital Security, and two firms that it owns or controls. None of the individuals sanctions were publicly identified by the U.S. as Russian oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin.

Russia Is Said to Be Suspect in Hacks of U.S. Power Plants

Cyberattacks on the U.S.’s critical manufacturing sectors and commercial facilities have been happening “hundreds of thousands of times a day,” Energy Secretary Rick Perry said in March. A joint analysis by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security described the hackers as extremely sophisticated, in some cases first breaching suppliers and third-party vendors before hopping from those networks to their ultimate target. The government’s report didn’t say how successful the attacks were.

The targets include the U.S. electric grid, water processing plants, air transportation facilities and other targets in rolling attacks on some of the country’s most sensitive infrastructure.

Treasury “is committed to aggressively targeting any entity or individual working at the direction of the FSB whose work threatens the United States,” Mnuchin said. The U.S. used new legislative authority to impose the sanctions to “counter the constantly evolving threats emanating from Russia.”

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