Ukraine's Power Outage Possibly Linked to Russia

January 13, 2016

By Joe Rizzo - Contributing Writer

Normally we associate power outages with major storms, where lightning blows up transformers or heavy winds topple trees and branches over power lines. However, if you take a look inside a power grid monitoring facility you will see walls and rows upon rows of monitors, sensors and mapping systems.

As we live in a digital age, all of these systems are controlled by computers and are therefore susceptible to cyber attacks. Just a few days before Christmas over 700,000 western Ukrainians in and around the regional capital city of Ivano-Frankivsk were hit by such an attack.

There has not been too much information concerning the attack, which definitely affected one Ukrainian energy firm and may have also targeted at least two more. Ever since April 2014 there has been a lot of concern of what will happen between the Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian authorities have accused Moscow of the power outage that destroyed pylons carrying electricity.

American firm iSIGHT Partners, recognized as being a leader in cyber threat intelligence, has studied and analyzed some of the code which was found on infected computer systems in Ukraine. They have come to a conclusion that suggests that the hack originated in Russia.

Jason Healey, a known expert on cyber conflicts and a senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs in New York, said “If this is the first successful attack against electrical power, I think a lot of people will see it as the crossing of the Rubicon. There’s no doubt that every year is more dangerous than the last and that such attacks will be more common.”

If this becomes the newest, or at least the latest form of attack, hackers, regardless of who they are working for, could knock out sections of power grids, crippling major sections of any country while at the same time causing considerable economic damage.

Never before has there been a time when securing computers and electronic equipment been more necessary. This type of cyber attack shows how important it is to conduct regular backups and have the necessary uninterrupted power supplies (UPSs) strategically set up.

While it is no guarantee that backups and UPSs will have any effect when dealing with cyber attacks, it is one of the first and easiest steps to take. Minuteman Power Technologies (News - Alert) has been in the business for a long time making compact products that can ensure your smartphones and tablets stay charged to systems that can maintain large datacenters long enough to complete backups and safely shut everything down.

Being without power, even for just a few hours, can causes businesses of any size to lose valuable data. In some cases, certain equipment needs to be shut down through the proper procedure, which could require several minutes and various pieces of equipment. It’s times like these that having a good backup option and strategically placed UPSs are critical.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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