Power stations under attack from long-running hacking campaign

Dragonfly threat group is ramping up activities, say researchers

Energy companies in the US and Europe are being targeted by an increasingly intense campaign of cyber attacks, security researchers have warned.

According to security firm Symantec, power companies in the US, Turkey and Switzerland have been targeted by a group of highly sophisticated hackers, which has been operating since at least 2011.

Advertisement - Article continues below

The group, which researchers have dubbed 'Dragonfly', has been attempting to gather intelligence and gain operational control of systems in energy facilities for an unknown purpose.

"The original Dragonfly campaigns now appear to have been a more exploratory phase where the attackers were simply trying to gain access to the networks of targeted organizations," Symantec said.

"The Dragonfly 2.0 campaigns show how the attackers may be entering into a new phase, with recent campaigns potentially providing them with access to operational systems, access that could be used for more disruptive purposes in future."

Dragonfly's targeting of power companies raises echoes of attacks against the Ukrainian energy grid which plunged parts of the country into darkness in 2015 and 2016. However, researchers have not identified any concrete links between those incidents and attacks carried out by Dragonfly, and warned against jumping to conclusions regarding attribution.

The group mostly used popular 'off-the-shelf' malware and widely-available administration tools to carry out attacks, which Symantec theorised could be part of a strategy to thwart attribution attempts.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below
Advertisement - Article continues below

Researchers also noted what while parts of the malware used by the group were written in Russian, other parts were written in French another potential false flag to throw investigators off the scent.

"Conflicting evidence and what appear to be attempts at misattribution make it difficult to definitively state where this attack group is based or who is behind it," Symantec said.

"What is clear is that Dragonfly is a highly experienced threat actor, capable of compromising numerous organizations, stealing information, and gaining access to key systems. What it plans to do with all this intelligence has yet to become clear, but its capabilities do extend to materially disrupting targeted organizations should it choose to do so."

Featured Resources

Preparing for long-term remote working after COVID-19

Learn how to safely and securely enable your remote workforce

Download now

Cloud vs on-premise storage: What’s right for you?

Key considerations driving document storage decisions for businesses

Download now

Staying ahead of the game in the world of data

Create successful marketing campaigns by understanding your customers better

Download now

Transforming productivity

Solutions that facilitate work at full speed

Download now
Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/mobile/google-android/356373/over-2-dozen-additional-android-apps-found-stealing-user-data
Google Android

Over two dozen Android apps found stealing user data

7 Jul 2020
Visit/security/ransomware/356292/university-of-california-gets-fleeced-by-hackers-for-114-million
ransomware

University of California gets fleeced by hackers for $1.14 million

30 Jun 2020
Visit/security/cyber-security/356289/australia-announces-135b-investment-in-cybersecurity
cyber security

Australia announces $1.35 billion investment in cyber security

30 Jun 2020
Visit/cloud/cloud-security/356288/csa-and-issa-form-cybersecurity-partnership
cloud security

CSA and ISSA form cyber security partnership

30 Jun 2020

Most Popular

Visit/business/business-operations/356395/nvidia-overtakes-intel-as-most-valuable-us-chipmaker
Business operations

Nvidia overtakes Intel as most valuable US chipmaker

9 Jul 2020
Visit/laptops/29190/how-to-find-ram-speed-size-and-type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

24 Jun 2020
Visit/hardware/components/356405/is-it-time-to-put-intel-outside
components

Is it time to put Intel Outside?

10 Jul 2020