A new report by a U.S. computer security company details systematic attacks against Western oil and gas companies by a group of hackers identified as being from Russia.
In its June 30 report, Symantec, based in California, says the hackers, known as "Dragonfly," targeted energy firms in the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Poland.
Symantec says the hackers succeeded in inserting so-called "Trojans" into software used by oil and energy firms to allow employees to remotely access industrial control systems.
More than 250 companies are believed to have downloaded infected software updates.
Kevin Haley of Symantec is quoted by "The New York Times" as saying there was no evidence the Russian group intended to sabotage Western energy facilities, however.
He said the apparent motive was to learn more about energy companies’ operations, strategic plans, and technology.
But he said the "potential for sabotage is there."