In March, the White House announced new sanctions being placed on Russia as a result of a number of malicious cyber warfare efforts directed at the United States. Among these efforts were the commonly discussed election meddling that dominates most political discourse regarding Russia in American politics today, but an arguably far greater threat was also discussed in both Trump’s and the Treasury’s documents regarding these sanctions: the fact that Russia had successfully infiltrated America’s power grid.
“The Administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyber-attacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin in a release at the time. The statement went on to provide a laundry list of methods of tactics employed by the Russians, including on site and open-source reconnaissance and complex network based efforts. However, much of their success still came from e-mail manipulation and “phishing” schemes, aimed at gaining access to networks by compromising people, rather than the secure systems themselves.
The result, according to the American government, was the successful infiltration of multiple infrastructure systems, including the commercial energy grid, though the Treasury went on to claim that any Russian access has since been terminated.
“We were able to identify where they were located within those business systems and remove them from those business systems,” one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.