Putin Controls The Light Switch???

I was so tired tonight that I could barely stay awake, and I was actually thinking the unthinkable – to go to bed without publishing a morning post.  And then, as I made one last scan of the headlines, I saw this:

Cyberattacks Put Russian Fingers on the Switch at Power Plants, U.S. Says

And I was suddenly wide awake.

Russia interfered with our election in 2016.  That is no longer speculation … that is fact.  But guess what?  That isn’t all they are capable of doing.

“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.”

According to a report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued yesterday, 15 March 2018:

“Since at least March 2016, Russian government cyber actors—hereafter referred to as “threat actors”—targeted government entities and multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including the energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors.”

To put it simply, if Russia so chose, they have the capability to shut down our power grids, water systems, air traffic controls and more.  U.S. Intelligence agencies have been aware for a year and a half that the Russians had this capability, and last June issued warnings to utility companies.  The latest information comes on the heels of Trump finally imposing the sanctions against Russia that were unanimously passed by Congress last year.  Could these sanctions be the ‘political motivation’ of which Mr. Chien speaks?

According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times

The groups that conducted the energy attacks, which are linked to Russian intelligence agencies, appear to be different from the two hacking groups that were involved in the election interference. That would suggest that at least three separate Russian cyberoperations were underway simultaneously. One focused on stealing documents from the Democratic National Committee and other political groups. Another, by a St. Petersburg “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency, used social media to sow discord and division. A third effort sought to burrow into the infrastructure of American and European nations.

Russian cyberattacks surged last year, starting three months after Mr. Trump took office. American officials and private cybersecurity experts uncovered a series of Russian attacks aimed at the energy, water and aviation sectors and critical manufacturing, including nuclear plants, in the United States and Europe. In its urgent report in June, the Department of Homeland Security and the F.B.I. notified operators about the attacks but stopped short of identifying Russia as the culprit.

By then, Russian spies had compromised the business networks of several American energy, water and nuclear plants, mapping out their corporate structures and computer networks.  In an updated warning to utility companies on Thursday, Homeland Security officials included a screenshot taken by Russian operatives that proved they could now gain access to their victims’ critical controls.

Rather like the hacking of our 2016 elections, which the intelligence community informs us is ongoing and is expected to affect the mid-terms this November, our response to this situation seems rather tepid.  The sanctions Trump imposed yesterday fell short of those that had been passed by Congress last year.  Trump finally joined our allies in stating that Putin was in all likelihood responsible for the chemical attack on a former Russian spy and his daughter in the UK, but it took him two weeks.  Will he instruct our intelligence agencies to actively pursue these hackers?  Can the agencies act without his blessing?  If so, will they?  These are questions whose answers are beyond my field of knowledge, but I think they are important for us to ask.

If you haven’t read One Second After by William Forstchen, I highly recommend it.  I read it a few years ago, and while I did not write a review, I did write another post in January 2017 that summarized the book and touched on the “what-if” of an enemy effectively shutting down our power grid.  While I am not an alarmist, I do recognize there is potential for disaster here.  The potential has been there for a while, but I ask you this:  Do you actually trust Donald Trump to do everything in his power to stop Russia from interfering in our elections, or even worse, from causing infrastructure disruptions likely to cost millions of lives?  I don’t.  His promise to “keep America safe” is naught but hot air.  It is time he step up to the plate, or else step aside and let somebody else bat.

And on that note, I shall now go to bed and try to sleep.

21 thoughts on “Putin Controls The Light Switch???

  1. Lordy … who knew? All this rhetoric about Mr. Putin, etc. At least he, had the gumption to get out of the bankers grips. Which is probably why they are launching these crusades to demonize the country and it’s leaders. If American voting is so easily manipulated? Why is it just the Russians? Anyone could or did? What is wrong with good ol’ paper and markers? Democracy is so easily manipulated …? What exactly was the evidence again? Cheers Jamie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It would not be a wise move by Russia to actually do this as the fingers would start pointing at once.
    The one aspect the Kremlin would be wise to consider is this.
    Whereas there are many wealthy Russians with many fingers in many pies, Moscow is not a financial capital, nor does it have the financial resources to wage ‘financial influence’ war, such as Western Nations can (and incidentally Saudi Arabia and Iran are building up these capacities). It has a rather fragile economy and would have difficulty surviving when isolated…China’s got the message.
    They may have cyber capacity but as is often the case with Russia for all their wiles and astute dealings they don’t understand ‘Soft Power’
    For once your Pres had to act, a fellow NATO member was attacked…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmmmm … under normal circumstances, it would certainly not be a wise move on the part of Russia. But then, under normal circumstances, hacking our election would not have been a wise move. But, perhaps if you have the leader of that nation in your back pocket, wisdom is a relative term? Mind you, I don’t think Russia would shut down our electrical grids, but … I think they are not beneath using that threat to keep a certain Donald Trump in line. And … perhaps of equal concern … once the capability exists, accidents can happen. And, what is to stop some rogue individual with a bone to pick from ‘accidentally’ pressing the wrong sequence of keystrokes?

      You are right that Russia isn’t a financial capitol … which is partly why I believe Putin is looking to ‘expand his empire’. He’s made no secret of the fact that he would like to rebuild the Soviet Union. And another thing that I wonder … given that Trump seems to be working very hard at alienating all our allies with his “America First” policy, if Russia did make a move such as that we are speaking of, would our allies be in any big hurry to help us, to rush to our defense? Today, I think they would, but … in six months, after Trump imposes even more tariffs and does whatever other harm he can to our relationships? Comes a time when even the best of friends finally says, “Bye … see ya”.

      The Grimm brothers themselves couldn’t have scripted this much better!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jill, the only good thing about this revelation is it clearly reminds all of Trump’s sycophants and fans that it does matter if he was helped by the Russians. It does matter that they continue to meddle in the US and it does matter that they can and have done this. I recall the mocking by Trump of this hoax and the waving of Russian flags to taunt the press and Democrats. It was not funny then and it is not funny now. My former party used to love the FBI and not trust the Russians. Why have they allowed a man known for lying convince them to reverse those feelings. Keith

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Jill,

    I am so trilled that this cat has been let out of the bag. DHS exposure about Russia’a attempt to penetrate US power grids. There needs to be a wake up call for all Americans that these Russian attacks are to be taken seriously. And this is why I contend that US sanctions against Russia have to strengthened.

    There is a 6/20/18 Wired Report by Chris Merlow that I almost blogged on on what Russia did to Ukraine folks where all of a sudden on one occasion, 230,000 peoples were without power. peoples were even blocked from calling into call centers to inquire about the outage. There have been more incidents like this.

    Excerpts from the Wired report:

    (One of the victims) “another paranoid thought began to work its way through his mind: For the past 14 months, Yasinsky had found himself at the center of an enveloping crisis. A growing roster of Ukrainian companies and government agencies had come to him to analyze a plague of cyberattacks that were hitting them in rapid, remorseless succession. A single group of hackers seemed to be behind all of it. Now he couldn’t suppress the sense that those same phantoms, whose fingerprints he had traced for more than a year, had reached back, out through the internet’s ether, into his home.”

    “The Cyber-Cassandras said this would happen. For decades they warned that hackers would soon make the leap beyond purely digital mayhem and start to cause real, physical damage to the world. In 2009, when the NSA’s Stuxnet malware silently accelerated a few hundred Iranian nuclear centrifuges until they destroyed themselves, it seemed to offer a preview of this new era. “This has a whiff of August 1945,” Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, said in a speech. “Somebody just used a new weapon, and this weapon will not be put back in the box.”

    “Now, in Ukraine, the quintessential cyberwar scenario has come to life. Twice. On separate occasions, invisible saboteurs have turned off the electricity to hundreds of thousands of people. Each blackout lasted a matter of hours, only as long as it took for scrambling engineers to manually switch the power on again. But as proofs of concept, the attacks set a new precedent: In Russia’s shadow, the decades-old nightmare of hackers stopping the gears of modern society has become a reality.”

    “And the blackouts weren’t just isolated attacks. They were part of a digital blitzkrieg that has pummeled Ukraine for the past three years—a sustained cyber­assault unlike any the world has ever seen. A hacker army has systematically undermined practically every sector of Ukraine: media, finance, transportation, military, politics, energy. Wave after wave of intrusions have deleted data, destroyed computers, and in some cases paralyzed organizations’ most basic functions. “You can’t really find a space in Ukraine where there hasn’t been an attack,” says Kenneth Geers, a NATO ambassador who focuses on cybersecurity.”

    “In a public statement in December, Ukraine’s president, Petro Poroshenko, reported that there had been 6,500 cyberattacks on 36 Ukrainian targets in just the previous two months. International cybersecurity analysts have stopped just short of conclusively attributing these attacks to the Kremlin, but Poroshenko didn’t hesitate: Ukraine’s investigations, he said, point to the “direct or indirect involvement of secret services of Russia, which have unleashed a cyberwar against our country.” (The Russian foreign ministry didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment.)”

    “To grasp the significance of these assaults—and, for that matter, to digest much of what’s going on in today’s larger geopolitical disorder—it helps to understand Russia’s uniquely abusive relationship with its largest neighbor to the west. Moscow has long regarded Ukraine as both a rightful part of Russia’s empire and an important territorial asset—a strategic buffer between Russia and the powers of NATO, a lucrative pipeline route to Europe, and home to one of Russia’s few accessible warm-water ports. For all those reasons, Moscow has worked for generations to keep Ukraine in the position of a submissive smaller sibling.”

    “But over the past decade and a half, Moscow’s leash on Ukraine has frayed, as popular support in the country has pulled toward NATO and the European Union. In 2004, Ukrainian crowds in orange scarves flooded the streets to protest Moscow’s rigging of the country’s elections; that year, Russian agents allegedly went so far as to poison the surging pro-Western presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko. A decade later, the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution finally overthrew the country’s Kremlin-­backed president, Viktor Yanukovych (a leader whose longtime political adviser, Paul Manafort, would go on to run the US presidential campaign of Donald Trump). Russian troops promptly annexed the Crimean Peninsula in the south and invaded the Russian-­speaking eastern region known as Donbass. Ukraine has since then been locked in an undeclared war with Russia, one that has displaced nearly 2 million internal refugees and killed close to 10,000 Ukrainians.”

    Hugs, Gronda

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for that information, Gronda! I knew of the cyber-attacks against the Ukraine, but not the details. Like you, I am glad to see this openly reported, for now it cannot be swept under the rug. I hope this news is a wake up call for everyone. It’s as if we are living in the midst of a really bad science-fiction movie, only we cannot seem to leave the theater. Thanks again for the info from the Wired article! Hugs!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it is frightening, and you are right … Trump is dangling at the end of Putin’s puppet strings, so he will not move to address this. I’m not sure what can be done, but I am pretty sure somebody could come up with some ideas if given half a chance. Trump, however, has refused to even authorize steps to be taken against Russia for the election hacking, past and future. We really need to expedite his departure from the White House. Even Pence, I believe, would have the good sense to understand what is happening and what the potential for catastrophe is. Sigh. Hugs, dear friend … sorry I’ve been off the grid for a couple of days … working on getting back to par.

      Liked by 1 person

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