National Security & Defense

Officials Confirm Russian Hackers Can Shut Down U.S. Power Plants At Will

The Russian state flag flies in front of a monument to Soviet state founder Vladimir Lenin in Bakhchysarai, Crimea, September 27, 2017. (Pavel Rebrov/Reuters)

State-sponsored Russian hackers currently possess the ability to shut down U.S. power plants should they so choose.

The hackers gained access to critical control systems at numerous unspecified power plants beginning in the spring of 2017, allowing them to disrupt the facilities’ operations at will, according to a Department of Homeland Security report released Thursday.

Moscow continues to enjoy access to the machines controlling the power plants and could theoretically disrupt their operations given the requisite level of Russo–American hostilities, multiple government officials and private security professionals confirmed to the New York Times Friday.

“We now have evidence they’re sitting on the machines, connected to industrial control infrastructure, that allow them to effectively turn the power off or effect sabotage,” said Eric Chien, a security technology director at Symantec, a digital security firm. “From what we can see, they were there. They have the ability to shut the power off. All that’s missing is some political motivation.”

DHS and the FBI first warned utilities companies of the emerging threat in June, roughly a year and a half after intelligence agencies first became aware that Russia had redoubled their efforts to infiltrate critical U.S. infrastructure.

The agencies first publicly disclosed the aggression in a Thursday statement that accompanied a new round of sanctions directed at Russian individuals and entities involved in election meddling and cyberattacks. Officials also issued a new and more dire warning to utilities companies, providing a screenshot — taken by a Russian operative — to demonstrate Russia’s ability to access critical controls.

While officials believe separate Russian hacking groups are responsible for the election meddling and cyberattacks, the attempts to penetrate critical U.S. infrastructure increased dramatically in conjunction with efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election, and surged once again roughly three months into President Donald Trump’s first term.

Jack Crowe — Jack Crowe is a news writer at National Review Online.

Most Popular


Our Cultural Crisis: A Kirkian Response

Editors’ note: The following article is adapted from a speech the author delivered at the Heritage Foundation on March 14, 2018. Few would dispute that we are in the middle of a grave cultural crisis. A despairing conservative critic wrote: “We are on the road to cultural disaster.” He placed the ... Read More

Confirm Pompeo

What on earth are the Democrats doing? President Trump has nominated CIA director Mike Pompeo, eminently qualified by any reasonable standard, to be America’s 70th secretary of state. And yet the Senate Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, have perverted the advice and consent clause of the Constitution into a ... Read More

The Mournful, Magnificent Sally Mann

‘Does the earth remember?" The infinitely gifted photographer Sally Mann asks this question in the catalogue of her great retrospective at the National Gallery in Washington. On view there is her series of Civil War battlefield landscapes, among the most ravishing works of art from the early 2000s. Once sites ... Read More
PC Culture

The Dark Side of the Starbucks Stand-Down

By now the story is all over America. Earlier this month, two black men entered a Starbucks store in Philadelphia. They were apparently waiting for a friend before ordering — the kind of thing people do every day — and one of the men asked to use the restroom. A Starbucks employee refused, saying the restroom ... Read More

Save the Eighth

There are many things to admire in Ireland’s written constitution. Most especially, the text includes, since a popular referendum in 1983, the Eighth Amendment: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to ... Read More
White House

The Comey & Mueller Show

It has been a good week for President Trump. Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz provided indisputable evidence that former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe lied at least four key times and was fired by the attorney general for cause -- and that Mr. Trump had nothing to do with it. McCabe and ... Read More