|US officials say malware was found in operating systems of several US energy companies and announces sanctions
for election interference
The US has accused Russia of a cyber-assault on its energy grid, and has stepped up sanctions on Russian intelligence for its
interference in the 2016 elections.
“Russia’s behaviour continues to trouble us and we are continuing to push back in meaningful ways,” a senior national
security official said.
US officials said that malware had been found in the operating systems of several organisations and companies in the US
energy sector, and the malware as well as other form of cyber-attacks had been traced back to Moscow.
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are issuing an alert, urging other firms in the industry to review their
“It is the judgment of the DHS than Russian government cyberhackers were behind the hacking of organisations in the
energy sector,” a senior official said, adding that it was clear that the cyber-attack was coordinated and “deliberately
targeted”. Officials added that the motive of the attack was initially surveillance, to gather information on computer
management systems in the US energy grid.
At the same time, the US treasury announced new sanctions against Russian individuals and entities, including the FSB and
GRU intelligence agencies, as well as the Internet Research Agency in St Petersburg, for interference in the 2016 elections.
As a result of Russia’s election interference, officials said that thousands of Russian-planted stories reached “millions of
people online” during the US presidential campaign.
The sanctions were also imposed for the role of Russian intelligence in distributing the NotPetya malware and ransomware
which US officials attributed to Moscow in February.
Officials said it was initially targeted at Ukraine but was allowed to “propagate recklessly without bounds” and caused an
estimated $10bn in damage around the world, making it the most damaging cyber-attack in history.
The treasury announced it had sanctioned five entities and 19 individuals for cyber-attacks, including during the election.
“The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber-activity, including their attempted interference in US
elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure,” Steven Mnuchin, the treasury secretary,
said in a statement.
“These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia.
Treasury intends to impose additional … sanctions, informed by our intelligence community, to hold Russian government
officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilising activities by severing their access to the US financial system.”
Among those directly targeted are six senior officers of the military intelligence service, the GRU, including its chief, Igor
Korobov, and three of his deputies.