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DOJ Charges Russian Government Officials with Hacking U.S. Energy Infrastructure

On March 24, 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed indictments against four Russian government employees alleging involvement in two historical hacking campaigns targeting critical infrastructure worldwide.

According to the DOJ press release, the defendants are charged with “attempting, supporting and conducting computer intrusions that together, in two separate conspiracies, targeted the global energy sector between 2012 and 2018. In total, these hacking campaigns targeted thousands of computers, at hundreds of companies and organizations, in approximately 135 countries.”

The press release states:

A June 2021 indictment returned in the District of Columbia, United States v. Evgeny Viktorovich Gladkikh, concerns the alleged efforts of an employee of a Russian Ministry of Defense research institute and his co-conspirators to damage critical infrastructure outside the United States, thereby causing two separate emergency shutdowns at a foreign targeted facility. The conspiracy subsequently attempted to hack the computers of a U.S. company that managed similar critical infrastructure entities in the United States.

An August 2021 indictment returned in the District of Kansas, United States v. Pavel Aleksandrovich Akulov, et al., details allegations about a separate, two-phased campaign undertaken by three officers of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and their co-conspirators to target and compromise the computers of hundreds of entities related to the energy sector worldwide. Access to such systems would have provided the Russian government the ability to, among other things, disrupt and damage such computer systems at a future time of its choosing.

The DOJ notes that an indictment is simply an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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