Reasons for U.S. sanctions against Russian research institutions: development of dangerous malware

According to reports, Washington imposed sanctions on a Russian research institution last Friday on the grounds that the research institution was involved in the development of dangerous computer programs that could cause catastrophic industrial losses. In response, Russia said the sanctions were illegal.

The U.S. Treasury Department claimed that the Central Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics (TsNIIKhM) supported by the Russian government was suspected of “developing customized tools” that made it possible to attack an unknown oil facility in the Middle East in 2017.

Back then, after researchers made the attack public, there was a lot of discussion in the network security community for a while. Unlike typical digital intrusions designed to steal data or obtain data for blackmail, the goal of this attack seems to be to cause actual damage to the facility itself by disabling the facility’s own security system.

The network security company FireEye discovered the software involved in the attack. The company analyst Nathan Brubaker (Nathan Brubaker) said that this obvious intention makes the software uniquely dangerous, because in such a factory facility, disabling the security system may lead to serious consequences, such as fires. Or explosion, etc.

“The severity of the threat makes the software very scary,” Brubeck said. “It is chilling to create an explosion and cause casualties.”

The Treasury Department also stated that the attackers behind the malware reportedly scanned and probed at least 20 power facilities in the United States last year to find possible vulnerabilities.

“We once again emphasize the illegality of any unilateral restrictions. Unlike the United States, Russia will not take offensive actions in the cyber sphere,” Russian ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov (Anatoly Antonov) on social media Wrote, “We call on the United States to stop baseless malicious accusations.”

In the past month, U.S. officials have acted frequently, launching a large number of lawsuits against hackers in Russia, Iran and other countries, imposing sanctions, and issuing warnings about digital intrusions supported by several countries. Experts believe that this action is a warning issued by the United States to hostile forces not to interfere in the November 3 election.

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