Are Russian hackers infecting critical infrastructure in Ukraine?

Pierluigi Paganini December 30, 2015

The Ukrainian Government is blaming Russians state-sponsored hackers for a number of electricity cut-offs occurred in Western Ukraine.

The Ukrainian Government is suffering a series of power outages in the Western region of the country likely caused by cyber attacks.

The Ukrainian Government believes that the power outages are caused by operations conducted by Russian nation-state actors.

“hacker attacks by Russia[n] special services”.

According to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), experts have discovered a malware infecting critical infrastructure of the country, the malicious code targeted networks of some utilities.

The malware infections were observed in concurrent with a “non-stop telephone flood at utility plants’ technical support departments.” According to the local media, the Ukraine is suffering information warfare attacks.

“Experts detected virus software was found in some networks, SBU says. The virus attack was timed with nonstop telephone flood at utility plants’ technical support departments.”

The Security Service of Ukrainian also confirmed that its experts reportedly foiled other attacks conducted by Russian hackers. Russian agents attempted to infiltrate computer networks of a number of electricity utility companies.

It is not the first time that the Ukrainian Government suffers attacks alleged launched by Russian hackers. The number of attacks during the dispute between the two countries on the control of the Crimea.

Last Christmas Eve, infrastructure in the Ukraine suffered numerous power outages that were attributed to cyber attacks operated by Russian hackers.

While the Government of Kiev is blaming Russian hackers, the Russian Government hasn’t replied to the accusation. There are also other possible explanations for the numerous power outages, including accidental failures caused by animals and weather conditions.

There are anyway, if confirmed the news of the presence of a malware targeting the national infrastructure it is more likely the involvement of a foreign government, but as usually happen in this case the problem of attribution has no simple resolution.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – Information Warfare, Russia, Ukraine, nation-state attacks)

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