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Energy companies among biggest targets for Russian hacks

Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 7:52 PM EDT
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PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - President Biden is warning U.S. organizations of potential hacks from Russia, with the goal of shutting down US utilities.

Energy firms have scanned their security systems to look for weak spots, and they are among the companies expected to be the biggest targets.

“There’s been at least eight energy companies and federal governments scanned by the Russians,” said Joe Thigpen, Datagroup Technologies CEO.

All of that has happened in just the last few weeks.

One of the main reasons for concern is the rise in Russian IP addresses showing up in these companies security system scans.

“We may not be in a world war at the moment, but we are in a cyber world war,” said Thigpen.

Thigpen said it isn’t just Russia attacking the United States, but there will be countries retaliating back.

Here locally, he said companies should be ready.

“What every business needs to do right now, is to make sure that their firewalls, their servers, their computers, are all up to date with the latest patches,” said Thigpen.

The Greenville Utilities Commission has a plan to deal with potential hackers.

“We get together, we review our current processes and technology and determine if we got adequate protections in place,” said Andy Anderson, Greenville Utilities Director. “If we don’t - what additional steps do we need to take to protect GUC and our customer data.”

The Greenville Utilities Commission focuses their protection on three areas: people, processes and technology.

“Addressing those three areas will provide multiple layers of protection, thereby making it more difficult for a cyber criminal to impact our services,” said Anderson.

Data group technologies provides service for energy companies and they’ve found an effective way to keep hackers out.

“Systems are being converted over to multi-factor authentication so even if a hacker was to gain access to a computer or a server they wouldn’t have the secondary authentication to get into it,” said Thigpen.

Thigpen said everyone should back up their information and install antivirus software.

Greenville Utilities Commission wasn’t able to disclose all security measures but said they will keep working hard to keep all customer information safe from potential threat.

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