US: Russian hackers targeting state, local networks

Washington: US officials said Thursday that Russian hackers have targeted the networks of dozens of state and local governments in the United States in recent days, stealing data from at least two servers.

The warning, less than two weeks before the election, amplified fears of the potential for tampering with the vote and undermining confidence in the results.

The alert describes an onslaught of recent activity from Russian state-sponsored hacking groups in recent days against state and local networks, some of which were successfully compromised.

The advisory from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency functions as a reminder of Russia’s potent capabilities even after US officials warned about Iranian interference at a news conference on Wednesday night.

The advisory does not mention any of the specific victims who were targeted, but officials say they have no information that any election or government operations have been affected or that the integrity of elections data has been compromised.

US officials attribute the activity to a state-sponsored hacking group variously known as Dragonfly and Energetic Bear in the cybersecurity community. The group appears to have been in operation since at least 2011 and is known to have engaged in cyberespionage on energy companies and power grid operators in the US and Europe as well as defence and aviation companies.

The US has said that Russia, which interfered in the 2016 election by hacking Democratic email accounts, is interfering again this year in part by a concerted effort to denigrate President Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent, Joe Biden.