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Russian Hackers Could Have Caused ‘Mass Blackouts,’ Officials Say

Department of Homeland SecurityDepartment of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo is seen inside press conference room on May 11, 2017.The Washington Post/Getty Images

Russian hackers reportedly tricked people at U.S. utility and manufacturing plants, as well as other facilities, using conventional phishing techniques during an organized attack in 2017,

Recently released details about the 2017 attack say Russian hackers targeted mostly the energy sector, but also made moves to attack nuclear, aviation, and critical manufacturing as well, Jonathan Homer, head of Homeland Security, told the Associated Press.

Through the attacks, officials said the hackers had the ability to cause massive blackouts; however, they chose not to, the AP reports. It’s possible that many companies did not even know they were victims of the attack, simply because hackers used the credentials of actual employees to gain access.

Phishing involves sending an email to someone that claims to be from a reputable company when it’s actually from a hacker. When the recipient clicks on that email and enters his or her password, they’re essentially handing that password over to hackers.