In December 2016, the Government Ukraine energy company Ukrenergo suffered a severe power outage that affected the ”North” substation at Pivnichna. The incident caused blackouts in the city of Kyiv and neighboring regions.
The head of the NEC “Ukrenergo” Vsevolod Kovalchuk explained in a message posted on Facebook that experts at the company were able to restore power in 30 minutes with a manual procedure. According to Kovalchuk, the operations were fully restored after just over an hour.
Kovalchuk pointed out that an equipment malfunction or a cyber attack can be the cause of the problem. According to Kovalchuk, an “external interference through the data network” could have caused the power outage.
In a statement sent via email to SecurityWeek on this, Ukrenergo confirmed that preliminary results of its investigation showed that the normal operation of workstations and SCADA systems had been disrupted due to “external influences.”
Once broken in the target network, attackers used malware to gain remote control of systems at the power plant. Experts are still investigating to establish a timeline of events and identify the entry point of the hackers. They don’t exclude that the threat could still be inside the target network in a dormant state.
The company is working to secure its system by implementing organizational and technological measures that would make its systems resilient to further attacks.
“The cyber-security company Information Systems Security Partners (ISSP) has linked the incident to a hack and blackout in 2015 that affected 225,000.” reported the BBC. “ISSP, a Ukrainian company investigating the incidents on behalf of Ukrenergo, now appears to be suggesting a firmer link.
It said that both the 2015 and 2016 attacks were connected, along with a series of hacks on other state institutions this December, including the national railway system, several government ministries and a national pension fund.
Oleksii Yasnskiy, head of ISSP labs, said: “The attacks in 2016 and 2015 were not much different – the only distinction was that the attacks of 2016 became more complex and were much better organized.”
Who is behind the power outage?
Intelligence experts blame Russia once again.
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(Security Affairs – Ukrenergo, hacking)