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Successful Attack on Electrical Grid a First

Posted in Electical Power Facility, Energy, Hacking

Russian hackers are suspected in a cyber attack on a Ukrainian electrical grid which would be the first time a cyber attack caused widespread electrical outage. U.S. firm blames Russian ‘Sandworm’ hackers for Ukraine outage.

On December 23, a large swath of the Ukraine involving about 700,000 homes was without power for several hours.  It would be the first documented case of a cyber attack on an electrical power facility that caused an electrical blackout.  The suspected malware is a virus called Black Energy.  It is believed to have entered the system through a mundane phishing attack on email.

“It is a milestone,” said John Hultquist, director of cyber espionage analysis at iSight Partners.  “We’ve definitely seen targeted destructive events against energy before – oil firms for example – but never the event which causes a blackout.”

Attempted cyber attacks on power infrastructures are not a new concern, but a successful one is, even for US power sources that are well defended.  Among the many issues raised by such an event is whether the next phase of cyber problems has arrived and will eventually overtake claims for privacy breaches.