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Department of Justice: 3 Russian government employees targeted US nuclear plant in hacking campaign

Wolf Creek Nuclear Power Plant.jpg
Marat Valeryevich Tyukov.jpg
Mikhail Mihailovich Gavrilov.jpg
Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov.jpg
Posted at 3:47 PM, Mar 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-25 00:05:23-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — The United States Department of Justice unsealed two indictments against a total of four Russian government employees on Thursday, three of which face charges involving an alleged attack on Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation in Burlington, Kansas.

According to the United State Department of Justice, the campaign involved two phases. The Wolf Creek Generating Station was targeted during the second phase.

According to the DOJ, the second phase took place between 2014 and 2017 and was referred to as "Dragonfly 2.0."

During this phase the, three accused suspects focused on energy sector entities and individual engineers who worked with ICS/SCADA systems.

The DOJ said the tactics used spearphishing attacks and targeted more than 3,300 users at more than 500 U.S. and international companies.

They were successful in doing so at Wolf Creek and compromised the plant's business networks.

Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, Mikhail Mikhaillovich Ga Vrilov and Marat V Aleryevich Tyukov all face 21 charges related to the hacking campaign. The trio learned of the charges in August 2021.

The charges against Akulov, Vrilov and Tyukov range from conspiracy, computer to obtain information and computer fraud to damage computers among others.

Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco said in a statement, “Russian state-sponsored hackers pose a serious and persistent threat to critical infrastructure both in the United States and around the world.”

Monaco said, “Although the criminal charges unsealed today reflect past activity, they make crystal clear the urgent ongoing need for American businesses to harden their defenses and remain vigilant. Alongside our partners here at home and abroad, the Department of Justice is committed to exposing and holding accountable state-sponsored hackers who threaten our critical infrastructure with cyber-attacks.”

Read the DOJ indictment

This story was originally published by KSHB's David Medina in Kansas City, Kansas.