Russian hackers launched attacks on 3 US nuclear research laboratories, says Reuters investigation

Russian hackers launched attacks on 3 US nuclear research laboratories, says Reuters investigation
Russian hacker in a hoodieGetty Images
  • A group of Russian hackers targeted three US nuclear research laboratories.
  • The hackers attempted a phishing scam to try and get password information to access laboratory servers.

A group of Russian hackers attempted to attack three US nuclear research laboratories in the summer of 2022, a Reuters investigation has revealed.

As Putin threatened the use of nuclear weapons in his invasion of Ukraine, internet records reviewed by Reuters and five cyber security experts show Russian hacking group Cold River was targeting Brookhaven, Argonne, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories in August and September.

According to the Reuters investigation, the hackers created fake login pages for the laboratories and contacted nuclear scientists to try to trick them into revealing their passwords.

Reuters could not confirm if the phishing attempt were successful, with all three laboratories declining to comment to the news agency.

Adam Meyers, senior vice president of intelligence at US cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike told Reuters that Cold River is "one of the most important hacking groups you've never heard of," adding, "They are involved in directly supporting Kremlin information operations."


Reuters reports that Cold River hacked into and leaked emails belonging to the former head of Britain's MI6 spy service in May of 2022 and targeted Britain's foreign ministry in 2016.

Hacking has become a significant weapon of war. Targeting cell phones has been a feature of the fighting between Russia and Ukraine since 2014. Russian hackers have used malware in phone apps to track Ukrainian artillery units and have sent propaganda to Ukrainian phones using simulators that imitate cell towers.

Meanwhile, Ukrainians and foreign governments have eavesdropped on Russian troops using unsecured phones to talk to each other and their families in Russia. Ukrainians have also reportedly tracked Russian generals making unsecured calls and used the information to launch attacks, Insider's Christopher Woody reports.

Russia's electronic warfare has become a growing concern for the US military, with a rising number of incidents. In 2018, it was reported that the Russian military had been able to jam some US drones operating in the skies over Syria, seriously affecting American military operations