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US nuclear labs targeted by Russian hacking group

US nuclear scientists have become the latest target of Russian hackers, according to a new report by Reuters.

user icon Daniel Croft
Tue, 10 Jan 2023
US nuclear labs targeted by Russian hacking group
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Three US nuclear research facilities were targeted by Russian hacking group Cold River midway through last year.

Five cyber security experts along with Reuters analysed internet records to find that hackers targeted the Brookhaven (BNL), Argonne (ANL) and Lawrence Livermore National (LLNL) laboratories.

Records revealed that the team created fake login pages and sent emails to scientists to trick them into unknowingly unveil their login details.

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At this stage, it is unknown whether the hackers were successful or what the group’s intentions were. Reuters reached out to all three affected nuclear labs for comment, however, the facilities all declined or failed to respond.

Cold River has ramped up hacking against the West and Ukraine’s allies since February when Russia invaded Ukraine as part of what the former called a “special military operation”, which has since led to war.

The hacks occurred between August and September, the same time as when Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that he would be willing to use nuclear weapons to defend his country.

Also at the same time, UN experts accessed the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, which has been under Russian control since March. Russia claims it to be Russian territory after it was annexed via staged referendums.

Cold River came onto the radar of government and security organisations in 2016, after it attacked Britain’s Foreign Office.

It has since launched several major cyber attacks.

“This is one of the most important hacking groups you’ve never heard of,” said CrowdStrike senior vice president of intelligence Adam Meyers.

They are involved in directly supporting Kremlin information operations.”

Reuters reached out to the Russian Federal Security Service, the Russian embassy in Washington, the NSA and the British Foreign Office for comment on the issue. None of them responded.

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Daniel Croft is a passionate journalist with an understanding for and experience writing in the technology space. Having studied at Macquarie University, he joined Momentum Media in 2022, writing across a number of publications including Australian Aviation, Cyber Security Connect and Defence Connect. Outside of writing, Daniel has a keen interest in music, and spends his time playing in bands around Sydney.

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