Ukraine Hackers Overtake Power Protection Systems

January 12, 2017

By Steve Anderson - Contributing Writer

Even just recently, we've seen many situations where power protection systems would have proven worth their weight in gold. As animals assaulted transformers and cars hit poles and even wayward balloons took out power lines, the sheer number of reasons to have a backup power capacity on hand presented clear cause for backup power. Add one more reason to that ever-growing list: hackers.

Several news outlets reported that the late December power outages in Ukraine were caused by hackers, which represented the second such occurrence in two years. The reports noted the original December 2015 attack, which took out the power for 225,000 Ukrainians during one of the coldest parts of the year for Ukraine, represented the first known instance of someone using malware to take out a power grid. The attack was blamed on the Russian government, who's been taking a lot of blame on the hacking front lately, deserved or otherwise.

The second attack, meanwhile, was said to be very similar in nature to the preceding attack, but went quite a bit farther than just the power grid, taking on the rail system's server, a national pension fund and several branches of the government. This slate of attacks ran for two weeks straight—December 6 through December 20, and the December 17 power outage—which lasted about an hour—was said to be part of that.

Honeywell (News - Alert) Industrial Cyber Security Labs' security researcher Marina Krotofil noted that the attack was “...not meant to have any lasting dramatic consequences,” and was rather meant more likely as “...a demonstration of capabilities,” a sort of indirect “look what we can do” threat.

Naturally, it's impossible to pin this directly on the Russians as of now. For our purposes, however, it doesn't really matter if It was the Russians, the Ukrainians, the Klingons or bored kids on 4Chan, as the end result is the same: an unexpected power outage that could have thrown a real monkeywrench in someone's day. This is why power protection systems are so vital; we've seen so many different ways power could go out, and whether it's part of a nation's attempt to wage war against another or an animal's misguided attempt to find food, the end result is a loss of power that's needed to run an average life.  When a business depends on power, having a ready reserve source of power can mean the difference between a day lost, and a day slightly curtailed.

Thus we see how important it is to engage in power protection; whether it's something as simple as an uninterruptible power supply or something as complex as generators and wind turbines, having power on hand that doesn't count on the grid is well worth taking advantage of.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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