The US has unveiled criminal charges against four Russian government officials, saying they engaged in two major hacking campaigns between 2012 and 2018 that targeted the global energy sector and affected thousands of computers across 135 countries.
In one now-unsealed indictment from August 2021, the justice department said three alleged hackers from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) carried out cyber-attacks on the computer networks of oil and gas firms, nuclear power plants, and utility and power transmission companies across the world between 2012 and 2017.
The three accused Russians in that case are Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, 36, Mikhail Mikhailovich Gavrilov, 42, and Marat Valeryevich Tyukov, 39.
In a second unsealed indictment from June 2021, the DoJ accused Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh, a 36-year-old Russian ministry of defense research institute employee, of conspiring with others between May and September 2017 to hack the systems of a foreign refinery and install malware known as “Triton” on a safety system produced by Schneider Electric.
The justice department unsealed the two cases just days after US president Joe Biden warned about “evolving intelligence” suggesting the Russian government is exploring options for more cyber-attacks in the future.
A department official told reporters on Thursday that even though the hacking at issue in the two cases occurred years ago, investigators remained concerned Russia will continue to launch similar attacks.
These charges show the dark art of the possible when it comes to critical infrastructure,” the official said.
The official added that