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Hackers supportive of Russia may soon begin targeting Western critical infrastructure, British intelligence authorities have warned.
While until recently such groups have been focusing on relatively harmless website hacks, some of them appear to have started considering doing more actual damage, Reuters reported, citing the National Cyber Security Centre of Britain—part of its GCHQ eavesdropping intelligence agency.
"Some have stated a desire to achieve a more disruptive and destructive impact against western critical national infrastructure, including in the UK," the agency said, adding that it expected the so-called hacktivists to take advantage of badly protected infrastructure.
Earlier this month, a leaked package of intelligence information from the Pentagon suggested that Canada’s natural gas pipeline network may have been targeted by Russia-linked hackers.
According to the leaked documents, the hackers claimed to have gained access to the country’s gas distribution network. There was no information about any damage done.
"There's a big disconnect between gaining access to a computer, in the industrial world, and knowing how to make it do physical things," a cybersecurity executive told the Canadian Press.
"Criminal groups gain access to industrial facilities all the time. But just hitting buttons isn't necessarily going to cause anything meaningful to happen."
"It would be a shock if they weren't targeting Canadian infrastructure, because they're targeting energy infrastructure worldwide as a matter of routine," Geoffrey Cann, digital innovation author and speaker told the Canadian Press.
Reuters also cited the leaked documents in its report on the GCHQ warning, noting it had seen a top-secret document warning about the infiltration of the Canadian gas infrastructure by a Russia-sympathetic group dubbed Zarya.
Per the document, the group had submitted proof to Russia’s federal security services, or FSB, that they can "increase valve pressure, disable alarms, and initiate an emergency shutdown of an unspecified gas distribution station".
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com