Experts have said for years that any cyber attack could cause power outages in the future, but it had yet to be proven. The latest Ukraine power outage, however, has unfortunately been tied to a cyber attack by way of implanted malware, according to computer security firms Trend Micro and iSight Partners.
Ukraine power company Prykarpattyaoblenergo from Western Ukraine reported a power outage on December 23rd, and an investigation by a Kiev commission found that, while malware was discovered on the electric firms network that led to the outage, at least two other electric firms were discovered to have malware on their systems as well. The hackers responsible not only impacted those two electric firms and Prykarpattyaoblenergo, but also “sought to infect other utilities,” Trend Micro and iSight Partners said. The Prykarpattyaoblenergo cyber attack is the first of its kind, with Trend Micro researcher Kyle Wilhoit lamenting that “This is the frst time we have proof and can tie malware to a particular outage. It is pretty scary.”
Wi-Fi networks have been known in many public places to be insecure, with little to no protection for them, but even with secure networks such as those of electric firms, if there are back doors (and the odds are pretty probable in a place like Ukraine with the overlording Russian government), hackers can exploit those back doors for their own purposes.
This is the first proven cyber attack with malware that has been able to cause a power outage, but it presents a problem in the future for all world governments. If hackers are successful in future strategies, they can do more than just infect emails and take over your computer(s) with ransomware.