This weekend, there was a power outage that affected sections of the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, and the regions that surround it. Data security experts are investigating whether this was the result of a cyberattack. If this turns out to be true, it would make it the second largest blackout caused by Ukrainian hackers.
Vsevolod Kovalchuk, acting director of Ukrenergo, said that external interference through the data network is one suspected cause. The company’s data security experts are already investigating this and will be releasing a report once the investigation reaches a conclusion.
According to Ukrenergo, faulty equipment and hacking are both possible causes for the crash. Law enforcement agencies are already thoroughly investigating the incident as well.
Roughly a year ago, three Ukrainian regional power companies became targeted by hackers, when a coordinated attack was launched against them. Their efforts were successful, as they managed to cause several blackouts lasting between 3-6 hours. These blackouts impacted multiple regions.
SBU, the Ukrainian security service, blamed Russia for the attack, even though no definitive evidence was presented. The hackers used a piece of malware called BlackEnergy, which is of Russian origin. Coupled with the attack’s complexity, the suspicion was cast on Russia.
Alex Mathews, Lead Security Evangelist at Positive Technologies, commented that power outages are common during the winter in former USSR countries, and old equipment is to blame. He believes that additional information is required before reaching a conclusion, although a cyberattack is definitely possible. According to him, only two thirds of building automation and energy management systems can be called secure.