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Europe and North America Energy Sector Targeted by Sophisticated Cyberattack Group

The Western energy sector is being targeted by a new wave of cyberattacks capable of providing attackers ability to severely disrupt affected operations, according to reports on Wednesday. Symantec Security Response team reports: "The energy sector has become an area of increased interest to cyber attackers over the past two years. Most notably, disruptions to Ukraine’s power system in 2015 and 2016 were attributed to a cyber attack and led to power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of people. ... The Dragonfly group appears to be interested in both learning how energy facilities operate and also gaining access to operational systems themselves, to the extent that the group now potentially has the ability to sabotage or gain control of these systems should it decide to do so."

The group behind the attacks is known as Dragonfly: "The group has been in operation since at least 2011 but has re-emerged over the past two years from a quiet period… This 'Dragonfly 2.0' campaign, which appears to have begun in late 2015, shares tactics and tools used in earlier campaigns by the group."

"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. 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."

"The most concerning evidence of this is in their use of screen captures. In one particular instance the attackers used a clear format for naming the screen capture files, [machine description and location].[organization name]. The string 'cntrl' (control) is used in many of the machine descriptions, possibly indicating that these machines have access to operational systems."

Related topics: Cyberattack, Cybersecurity

 
   

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