Tech Law

Russian hackers reportedly cause the world's first malware-caused power station outage


By John McCarthy | Media editor

January 8, 2016 | 3 min read

A power station in Ukraine was briefly taken out of commission two weeks ago according to an internet security firm.

Cyber security firm iSIGHT Partners conducted forensic research into the black-out of hundreds of thousands of homes in the Ivano-Frankivsk region of Ukraine.

It claims that the outage was caused by a Russian hacker group, adding that the incident is likely the first recorded instance of a cyber-attack against a power station.

Its investigation found that the group, called Sandworm, was responsible for the breach, injecting malware dubbed Black Energy 3 and KillDisk into the region’s power system. This reportedly disconnected vital points of the energy infrastructure.

Ukrainian intelligence stopped just shy of linking the cyber-attack with the Russian state – although the group is in operation within the country’s borders.

The incident represents the danger that malware plays as weapon in state-backed cyber war, with it capable of high-jacking and damaging infrastructure.

Last October, Dido Harding, the chief executive of TalkTalk branded cyber attacks as “the crimes of our generation,” speaking after hackers stole the data of over four million customers.

Around the same time, Richard Ledgett, the deputy director of the NSA warned that nation-state cyber-attacks will become more frequent as the world becomes more connected.

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