WASHINGTON (AP) — Nuclear and other energy providers have been advised by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI that hackers may be trying to breach their computer systems.
DHS said in a statement Friday that there is no threat to public safety. The agency said hackers appear to have tried to breach the business and administrative networks of the facilities. DHS did not identify the facilities.
DHS and the FBI routinely advise the private sector of possible cyber threats to help officials protect potentially vulnerable networks.
The statement came amid multiple news reports that nuclear and electrical power may have been targeted by hackers. Both Reuters and The New York Times have previously reported government warnings about the hacking efforts.
Most Read Business Stories
- Fired Amazon employee with Crohn's disease files lawsuit over lack of bathroom access
- Instead of fearing a Green New Deal, we need to embrace it | Jon Talton
- $500K bulletproof, souped-up Cadillac Escalade built for rich and famous
- Is your phone always low on battery and chewing through data? 'DrainerBot' could be to blame, Oracle says.
- New questions emerge around REI CEO's undisclosed relationship
The Nuclear Energy Institute said last week that no nuclear reactors were affected. Had any facilities been impacted by a cyberattack, a publicly available report would have to be made to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Fears of hackers targeting U.S. infrastructure, particularly nuclear facilities, have long persisted.
David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer and director of the nuclear safety project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the nuclear safety systems are generally out of the reach of hackers in analog systems. But business and administrative systems nonetheless contain valuable information about nuclear facilities, including maintenance schedules.
Lochbaum said hackers targeting such facilities are routinely looking for easy to access systems and information and try “to exploit (system weaknesses) and get as much information as possible.”
Among the most serious immediate risks, beyond someone using hacked information as part of a larger physical attack, is someone targeting the offsite power grid and causing an economic disruption, Lochbaum said.
Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap