Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant Targeted By Hackers, More US Energy Companies At Risk

PHOTOGRAPH: hoto courtesy of Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. via Flickr Creative Commons | Wolf Creek Generating Station, Unit 1. The nuclear power plant is located in Burlington, Coffey County, KS (28 MI SE of Emporia, KS) in NRC Region IV.

For the last two months, unidentified hackers have attempted to break into networks of companies responsible for operating nuclear power plants in the US. A Department of Homeland Security and FBI report said that among those that were targeted is Wolf Creek which runs a nuclear plant in Kansas.

The New York Times obtained a copy of the report, which they say was confirmed by security experts responding to the attacks.  It was not immediately clear how many hacking attempts had been made but the publication states that “it carried an urgent “amber alert,” the second-highest rating in terms of the severity of the threat.”

Whether the Wolf Creek hacking was an attempt to stealing US infrastructure trade secrets or in cause disruption to the operation of energy facilities isn’t known either. Such is also the case on the number of facilities targeted.

While Wolf Creek officials said they could not comment on the latest security issues, they assured no “operations systems” were affected and that their corporate network and the internet were separate from the network that runs the plant.

The U.S. government has since warned industrial firms about a hacking campaign targeting the nuclear and energy sectors.  Hackers use disguised “phishing” emails to  “harvest credentials” and gain access to networks of their targets. They usually victimize people with direct access to systems like industrial control engineers.

The federal report concluded the hackers are likely mapping computer networks for future attacks but there are no details yet as to what exactly they are after.

The US isn’t the only country that’s dealing with cyber attacks on its energy plants. Last June, a number of critical infrastructures in Ukraine were also taken offline after they were infected with Goldeneye ransomware. Industrial firms across the globe, including power providers and other utilities, have since been particularly worried about the potential for destructive cyber attacks.


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A Mass Communication graduate, Necta has been writing news and other digital content for over 2 years now. She's a movie buff and a sucker for Korean dramas.