WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on U.S.-imposed sanctions against Russia and accusations that Moscow conducted an operation to hack and spy on the U.S. energy grid and other critical infrastructure (all times local):
The Homeland Security Department says a Russian government hacking operation has affected the U.S. nuclear, aviation, water, construction and manufacturing sectors.
The department's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team says the operation targeted smaller American commercial facilities. The operation is said to have resorted to various methods — including a kind of cyberattack known as spear-phishing — to try to compromise legitimate user accounts, gather user credentials, and target industrial control systems and their networks.
A U.S. government alert to industry says the hackers deleted activity logs to try to cover their tracks. The alert says the hackers also used created administrator accounts on local machines that were disguised to appear legitimate.
The alert says the FBI and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center have determined that the ultimate objective was to "compromise organizational networks."
The Trump administration is accusing Russia of a new and ongoing operation to penetrate the U.S. energy grid.
U.S. national security officials say the FBI, the Homeland Security Department and intelligence agencies have determined that Russian intelligence and others are behind attacks on the American energy sector. The U.S. officials the energy industry targets were chosen deliberately.
The officials say the Russians obtained access to the energy system and "conducted network reconnaissance" of industrial control systems that run U.S. factories and the electricity grid. The officials say they've helped companies kick the Russians out of all systems currently known to have been penetrated.
The U.S. is sending an alert to energy companies to raise threat awareness.
The officials briefed reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive national security information.
The Trump administration is imposing sanctions on 19 Russians for alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election, including 13 indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller.
The penalties also include the first use of new powers that Congress passed last year to punish Moscow for election meddling. Those targets include officials working for the Russian military intelligence agency, GRU.
The Treasury Department says the GRU and Russia's military both interfered in the American election and were "directly responsible" for the NotPetya cyberattack that hit businesses across Europe in June 2017.
Those included in the Mueller indictment include Yevgeny Prigozhin, who's become known as the chef to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The administration is also targeting the Internet Research Agency that Mueller says orchestrated much of the cybermeddling in the presidential election.