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Security Crime

Western Energy Companies Under Sabotage Threat 86

Posted by timothy
from the shame-if-anything-was-t'-happen dept.
An anonymous reader writes In a post published Monday, Symantec writes that western countries including the U.S., Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Poland are currently the victims of an ongoing cyberespionage campaign. The group behind the operation, called Dragonfly by Symantec, originally targeted aviation and defense companies as early as 2011, but in early 2013, they shifted their focus to energy firms. They use a variety of malware tools, including remote access trojans (RATs) and operate during Eastern European business hours. Symantec compares them to Stuxnet except that "Dragonfly appears to have a much broader focus with espionage and persistent access as its current objective with sabotage as an optional capability if required."
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Western Energy Companies Under Sabotage Threat

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  • Attribution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ceriel Nosforit (682174) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @10:29AM (#47359947)

    "...the group mostly worked between Monday and Friday, with activity mainly concentrated in a nine-hour period that corresponded to a 9am to 6pm working day in the UTC +4 time zone."

    Which government has working days like that? Is it the Russians?

  • No airgap? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thieh (3654731) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @10:30AM (#47359965)
    I would have thought some of these should be airgapped for security reasons by design? Is it so hard to go to work these days that you have to hook it up to the outside?
  • by flyingsquid (813711) on Tuesday July 01, 2014 @01:28PM (#47361601)
    It's unquestionable that the U.S. has let this thing loose; the U.S. has perhaps the most advanced cyberwarfare capabilities (at least in terms of offense) as any country on earth, having developed these weapons and techniques they can't complain too much if other countries start using them as well. However the idea is that cyberwarfare, just like conventional warfare, can and should be governed by a code of conduct. The idea would be that targets that would be considered off-limits to conventional attacks would also be off-limits to cyber-attacks. So it would be considered acceptable to attack the enemy's command-and-control network, their radars, their weapons systems, or military shipping and transport... but not to attack civilian infrastructure such as electricity, water supply, trains, banks, the stock market, etc. etc. So far, U.S. actions are consistent with this policy; we have attacked Iran's nuclear facilities but haven't tried to take down their banks or power plants, even though we probably could. You can see this policy in action where the U.S. recently accused a number of Chinese soldiers of engaging in cyberwarfare against the U.S. The issue wasn't that they engaged in cyberwarfare, which we expect the Chinese to do. It was that they were attacking civilian targets for corporate espionage, and the U.S. wanted to send a message that while they expect the military to be attacked by the Chinese, and it's a legitimate target, it's not OK to target U.S. companies.

    In the current case, it would appear that Russia doesn't accept the U.S. argument that civilian infrastructure should be off-limits. Whether the U.S. can complain here or not is debatable. The U.S. has targeted civilian infrastructure during conventional operations; they knocked out the power in Serbia during actions in Kosovo, for example. So the Russians could easily argue- and not without merit- that if it's OK to take out the power in Serbia using a stealth bomber and a conventional bomb, it ought to be OK to turn out the lights in the U.S. using a logic bomb.

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