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Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

Energy facilities in the U.S., Switzerland, and Turkey have been targeted by a sophisticated hacking group known as Dragonfly, Symantec reports. The campaign, which has created the potential for sabotage and disruption, is being called "Dragonfly 2.0," since the group has launched attacks before.

Why it matters: Sabotage attacks tend to be preceded by intelligence-gathering campaigns, and these hackers have gotten farther than any other group when it comes to American power company systems, according to Symantec Security Analyst Eric Chien.

The hackers are to the point where "they could have induced blackouts on American soil at will," as WIRED's Andy Greenberg writes. (Think, for example, Stuxnet, suspected to be launched jointly by the U.S. and Israel to impact an Iranian nuclear facility.)

What they did: It appears the hackers are interested in learning how the energy facilities operate — the hackers used spear phishing, trojanized software, and watering hole websites to lure in victims to steal credentials to even gain access to operational systems. One particularly notable tactic here is that the hacking group saved screenshots of their hacking efforts in a clearly categorized format noting machine description and location, potentially indicating an interest in operational access.

  • Who's behind it: "Attributes of this attack are similar to those perpetrated by nation-states," according to Raytheon's Chief Strategy Officer for Cyber Services, Josh Douglas. But attribution is difficult to peg down with cyber attacks. In particular, the code used in the malware were in Russian and French both, one of which could be a false lead.
  • What it means: Cyber attacks "don't always happen instantly, but instead can take years to unfold," according to Douglas. This means we might not know the full extent of the hack yet
  • The trend: It's not the first time the energy industry has been the center of cyber attacks. Recall the cyber hack that crippled Ukraine's power grid in 2015 and 2016, as well as a few recent reports about attacks on electricity in Europe and the management side of U.S. energy facilities.

Go deeper

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.

Civil rights groups sue Oklahoma over law banning critical race theory

The Oklahoma state capitol in Oklahoma City. Photo: Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A group of civil rights organizations is suing Oklahoma over a law that restricts discussion of race and gender in public schools.

Why it matters: The law is one of several Republican-led attempts to ban critical race theory (CRT), a concept that links racial discrimination to the nation's foundations and legal system.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congressman criminally charged with lying to feds

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) has been indicted on charges he falsified records and lied to federal investigators probing an illegal foreign donation scheme, the Justice Department announced on Tuesday.

Driving the news: DOJ says a Fortenberry associate, who later cooperated with investigators, informed him he'd likely received illegal donations from an intermediary for a foreign national, but that Fortenberry denied any knowledge of such a scheme when contacted by the FBI.