While President Donald Trump talks about creating a cybersecurity unit with Russia, government officials told the Washington Post that Russian government hackers were behind recent cyber intrusions into the business systems of U.S. nuclear power and other energy companies.

The hackers didn’t disrupt the nuclear systems but instead attempted to assess their networks. The FBI and the department of Homeland Security had sent out alerts to energy companies in June that state actors were attempting to steal credentials to get into company networks.

The hacks signal the first time that Russian government hackers are known to have broken into the networks of American nuclear power companies, which could be a sign that Russia is seeking to lay the groundwork for more damaging hacks, the Washington Post reported.

The hacks come alongside comments from Trump that the United States and Russia could together create an “impenetrable Cybersecurity Unit.” Trump met with Russia President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit last week to discuss common goals.

The joint working group would address “how to prevent interference in the domestic affairs of foreign states, primarily in Russia and the U.S.,” Putin said.

Sen. Marco Rubio R-Fla., vehemently criticized Trump’s claims by saying that Putin could never be a “trusted ally.”

“Partnering with Putin on a ‘Cyber Security Unit’ is akin to partnering with Assad on a ‘Chemical Weapons Unit,’” Rubio tweeted Sunday.

After hearing the criticism from several lawmakers, Trump backtracked on the idea.

“The fact that President Putin and I discussed a Cyber Security unit doesn’t mean I think it can happen. It can’t,” Trump tweeted. 

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Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch
Morgan Lynch is a Staff Reporter for MeriTalk covering Federal IT and K-12 Education.