American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2022 - 87

DOJ Unveils Russian Hacking Charges
WASHINGTON-The U.S. Department
of Justice unsealed two indictments on
March 24 that charged four defendants-
all Russian nationals who worked for the
Russian government-with attempting,
supporting and conducting computer intrusions
that together, in two separate
conspiracies, targeted the global energy
sector between 2012 and 2018. In total,
DOJ says, these hacking campaigns targeted
thousands of computers, at hundreds
of companies and organizations, in approximately
135 countries.
According to the department, a June
2021 indictment returned in the District
of Columbia, United States v. Evgeny
Viktorovich Gladkikh, concerns the alleged
efforts of an employee of a Russian Ministry
of Defense research institute and
his co-conspirators to damage critical infrastructure
outside the United States,
thereby causing two separate emergency
shutdowns at a foreign targeted facility.
The conspiracy subsequently attempted
to hack the computers of a U.S. company
that managed similar critical infrastructure
entities in the United States.
An August 2021 indictment returned
in the District of Kansas, United States v.
Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, et al., details
allegations about a separate, two-phased
campaign undertaken by three officers of
Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB)
and their co-conspirators to target and
compromise the computers of hundreds
of entities related to the worldwide energy
sector, DOJ says. Access to such systems
would have provided the Russian government
the ability to, among other things,
disrupt and damage such computer systems
at a future time of its choosing.
" Russian state-sponsored hackers pose
a serious and persistent threat to critical
infrastructure both in the United States
and around the world, " Deputy Attorney
General Lisa O. Monaco said on March
24. " Although the criminal charges unsealed
today reflect past activity, they
make crystal clear the urgent ongoing
need for American businesses to harden
their defenses and remain vigilant. Alongside
our partners here at home and
abroad, DOJ is committed to exposing
and holding accountable state-sponsored
hackers who threaten our critical infrastructure
with cyberattacks. "
" The potential of cyberattacks to disrupt,
if not paralyze, the delivery of
critical energy services to hospitals, homes,
businesses and other locations essential
to sustaining our communities is a reality
in today's world, " relates U.S. Attorney
Duston Slinkard for the District of Kansas.
" We must acknowledge there are individuals
actively seeking to wreak havoc
on our nation's vital infrastructure system,
and we must remain vigilant in our effort
to thwart such attacks. "
In addition to unsealing these charges,
the U.S. government is taking action to enhance
private sector network defense efforts
and disrupt similar malicious activity.
Triton Attack
The Department of Homeland Security's
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure
Security Agency (CISA) already has released
numerous technical alerts, industrial
control systems (ICS) alerts and malware
analysis reports regarding Russia's malign
cyber activities, DOJ observes, including
the campaigns discussed in the indictments.
They
can be viewed at
https://www.cisa.gov/shields-up.
In the case of United States v. Evgeny
Viktorovich Gladkikh, the department
says, the defendant installed backdoors
and launched malware designed to compromise
the safety of energy facilities.
In June 2021, a federal grand jury in
the District of Columbia returned an indictment
charging Evgeny Viktorovich
Gladkikh, 36, a computer programmer
employed by an institute affiliated with
the Russian Ministry of Defense, for his
role in a campaign to hack ICS and operational
technology (OT) of global energy
facilities with techniques designed to enable
future physical damage with potentially
catastrophic effects.
According to the indictment, between
May and September 2017, the defendant
and co-conspirators hacked the systems
of a foreign refinery and installed malware,
which cybersecurity researchers
have referred to as " Triton " or " Trisis, "
on a safety system produced by multinational
corporation Schneider Electric.
The conspirators designed the Triton
malware to prevent the refinery's safety
systems from functioning (for example,
by causing the ICS to operate in an unsafe
manner while appearing to be operating
normally), granting the defendant
and his co-conspirators the ability to
damage the refinery, injure anyone nearby
and wreak economic harm.
However, the department continues,
when the defendant deployed the Triton
malware, it caused a fault that led the refinery's
Schneider Electric safety systems
to initiate two automatic emergency shutdowns
of the refinery's operations. Between
February and July 2018, the conspirators
researched similar U.S.-owned
refineries in the United States, and unsuccessfully
attempted to hack the U.S.
company's computer systems.
The three-count indictment alleges that
Gladkikh was an employee of the State
Research Center of the Russian Federation
FGUP Central Scientific Research Institute
of Chemistry and Mechanics, (TsNIIKhM),
Applied Developments Center (ADC).
On its website, which was modified after
the Triton attack became public, TsNIIKhM
described itself as the Russian Ministry
of Defense's leading research organization.
The ADC, in turn, publicly asserted that
it engaged in research concerning information
technology-related threats to critical
infrastructure (and claimed that its research
was defensive in nature).
According to DOJ, the defendant is
charged with one count of conspiracy to
damage an energy facility, which carries
a maximum sentence of 20 years in
prison, one count of attempt to cause
damage to an energy facility, which carries
a maximum sentence of 20 years in
prison, and one count of conspiracy to
commit computer fraud, which carries a
maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher
B. Brown and Luke Jones for the District
of Columbia, in partnership with the National
Security Division's Counterintelligence
and Export Control Section, are
prosecuting this case, DOJ says, adding
that the FBI's Washington field office
conducted the investigation.
The U.S.-based targets of the conspiracy
cooperated and provided valuable
assistance in the investigation, the department
indicates, going on to express
its appreciation to Schneider Electric for
its assistance in the investigation, particularly
noting the company's public outreach
and education efforts following the
overseas Triton attack.
Wolf Creek Compromised
In United States v. Pavel Aleksandrovich
Akulov, Mikhail Mikhailovich Gavrilov,
and Marat Valeryevich Tyukov, DOJ says,
the defendants undertook a years-long
effort to target and compromise computer
systems of energy sector companies
On Aug. 26, 2021, a federal grand
jury in Kansas City, Ks., returned an indictment
that charged three computer
hackers, all of whom were Russian residents
and nationals and officers in Military
Unit 71330 or " Center 16 " of the FSB,
with violating U.S. laws related to computer
fraud and abuse, wire fraud, aggravated
APRIL 2022 87
https://www.cisa.gov/shields-up

American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2022

Contents
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2022 - Intro
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2022 - Cover1
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2022 - Cover2
American Oil and Gas Reporter - April 2022 - Contents
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