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Leaked U.S. Intelligence Suggests Canadian Pipelines Targeted By Russian Hackers

A leaked package of intelligence information from the Pentagon has suggested that Canada’s natural gas pipeline network may have been targeted by Russia-linked hackers, the Canadian Press has reported.

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.

Cann, who specializes in oil and gas industry-related topics, added that the industry itself is highly aware of the cyber risk.

Pipelines are indeed an attractive target for cybercriminals because of their critical infrastructure status. Perhaps the most notorious recent example of such an attack was the shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline in 2021 when a group of cybercriminals hacked the pipe and demanded ransom.

The Colonial pipeline carries as much as 45% of the gasoline and diesel consumed on the U.S. East Coast and its shutdown sparked panic buying of fuels. The operator of the infrastructure ended up paying $5 million to the hackers to end their attack.

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“Recent cybersecurity incidents such as SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange, and the Colonial Pipeline incident are a sobering reminder that U.S. public and private sector entities increasingly face sophisticated malicious cyber activity from both nation-state actors and cyber criminals,” the White House said at the time.

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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