- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Intelligence officials in Washington have reportedly begun investigating claims that Russian hackers launched a cyberattack last month that targeted the electrical grid in neighboring Ukraine.

As many as 700,000 Ukrainian households lost power for several hours in late December as the result of an apparent cyberattack, and sources familiar with a probe underway in the U.S. told the Daily Beast this week that computer security experts with the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security Department are now involved in investigating what may have been a hack attack directed by Moscow amidst worsening relations with Kiev.

Prykarpattyaoblenergo, an energy company in western Ukraine, already attributed the Dec. 23 blackout as the result of an “interference” against its systems, and Ukraine’s security service and government have accused Russia in the weeks since of playing a part. New evidence seen by computer security experts in the U.S. have now added credence to claims that the incident was indeed spawned by a cyberattack, and in turn has attracted the attention of the CIA, NSA and DHS.

“It’s a milestone because we’ve definitely seen targeted destructive events against energy before—oil firms, for instance—but never the event which causes the blackout,” John Hultquist, director of cyber espionage analysis at iSIGHT, a Virginia-based security firm, told Ars Technica.

iSIGHT said this week that it has obtained a sample of the malware used in the attack and has linked it to hacking and espionage campaigns waged in recent years against NATO, western European governments and other entities considered to be likely targets of a Russian-led cyberwar.

“We have high confidence that this [Ukrainian attack] is Russian in origin,” Mr. Hultquist added to this city’s Post this week.

Russia has previously been accused of conducting a debilitating series of cyberattacks against Estonia in 2007.

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