A destructive â€œTrojan Horseâ€ malware program has penetrated the software that runs much of the nationâ€™s critical infrastructure and is poised to cause an economic catastrophe, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
National Security sources told ABC News there is evidence that the malware was inserted by hackers believed to be sponsored by the Russian government, and is a very serious threat.
The hacked software is used to control complex industrial operations like oil and gas pipelines, power transmission grids, water distribution and filtration systems, wind turbines and even some nuclear plants. Shutting down or damaging any of these vital public utilities could severely impact hundreds of thousands of Americans.
It gets crazier
DHS sources told ABC News they think this is no random attack and they fear that the Russians have torn a page from the old, Cold War playbook, and have placed the malware in key U.S. systems as a threat, and/or as a deterrent to a U.S. cyber-attack on Russian systems â€“ mutually assured destruction.
The hack became known to insiders last week when a DHS alert bulletin was issued by the agencyâ€™s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team to its industry members. The bulletin said the â€œBlackEnergyâ€ penetration recently had been detected by several companies.
DHS said â€œBlackEnergyâ€ is the same malware that was used by a Russian cyber-espionage group dubbed â€œSandwormâ€ to target NATO and some energy and telecommunications companies in Europe earlier this year. â€œAnalysis of the technical findings in the two reports shows linkages in the shared command and control infrastructure between the campaigns, suggesting both are part of a broader campaign by the same threat actor,â€ the DHS bulletin said.