South Africa


Eight things you need to know about US’s claims of Russian cyberattack on SA

(Photo: Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg)

The US claims three Russians with links to that government targeted at least 135 countries, including South Africa, in a hacking campaign.

The United States says government-linked Russian hackers have targeted the world’s energy sector, including in South Africa. This comes as news emerged that Russia is considering getting involved in a major South African contract relating to this very sector and as the Russia-Ukraine conflict evolves. Here are eight things you need to know to understand the story by Daily Maverick’s Caryn Dolley.

US claims South Africa targeted in Russia’s global hack attack campaigns

  1. The US claims three Russians with links to the Russian government targeted at least 135 countries, including South Africa, in a hacking campaign.
  2. According to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the global hacking campaign allegedly had the potential to “disrupt and damage” systems relating to energy sectors, including nuclear power plants.
  3. The hacking activities allegedly occurred from July 2012 to November 2017.
  4. The FBI has linked three suspects – Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, Mikhail Mikhailovich Gavrilov and Marat Valeryevich Tyukov – to operations it says were targeting countries including South Africa.
  5. According to the US, Akulov, Gavrilov and Tyukov were members of “a discreet operation unit” working deep within a law enforcement agency called the Federal Security Service headquartered in Moscow.
  6. The indictment against the three suspects indicates their alleged goals were “to establish and maintain surreptitious, unauthorised access to networks, computers, and devices of companies and other entities in the energy sector”. This “enabled the Russian government to disrupt and damage such systems, if it wished”.
  7. South Africa’s state-owned electricity utility Eskom says it combats regular cyberattack attempts, but would not be drawn on this specific campaign.
  8. The news of the alleged Russian cyberattack on South Africa comes after energy-related deals between the two countries have come under scrutiny, and while South Africa’s government has taken a neutral stance on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. DM

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