Ukraine power station cyber malware found in other utilities

5 January 2016
By Jack Loughran
Mobile version
Share |
The power station's systems were infected with the KillDisk malware which is capable of deleting or overwriting data files

The power station's systems were infected with the KillDisk malware which is capable of deleting or overwriting data files

A cyber attack on a Ukrainian power plant that resulted in an electricity blackout last month was more widespread than previously thought, according to security software firm ESET.

Prykarpattyaoblenergo, a power company in Western Ukraine, reported an outage on 23 December that affected the nearby area including regional capital Ivano-Frankivsk.

At the time, Ukraine's state security service blamed the attack on Russia and the energy ministry in Kiev set up a commission to investigate the matter.

However, Robert Lipovsky, a senior malware researcher at ESET, said that similar malware was found in the networks of two other utilities, although these did not result in blackouts.

"The reported case was not an isolated incident," he said.

Experts with ESET and two other security firms, iSight and Trend Micro, believe the attackers used a malicious software platform known as ‘BlackEnergy’ to access utility networks, planting a related piece of malware, ‘KillDisk’, on targeted systems.

KillDisk is capable of deleting or overwrite data files but the researchers say they have yet to determine whether its job was to knock out power or simply conceal the attack.

Cyber criminals have been using versions of BlackEnergy since 2007 and over the past two years there have been widespread reports that a Moscow-backed group, Sandworm, has been using the software for targeted attacks.

"This is the first time we have proof and can tie malware to a particular outage," said Trend Micro senior researcher Kyle Wilhoit. "It is pretty scary."

Prykarpattyaoblenergo publicly blamed its outage on ‘interference’ in the working of its system but the Kremlin did not respond to a request for comment.

A string of cyber-attacks on Ukraine’s telecommunications system in 2014 were also blamed on Russia by the Ukrainian security agency.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1606

"Where would Frankenstein and his creative mind fit into today's workplace? Should we fear technological developments or embrace them?"

E&T jobs

  • Graduate Electrical Engineers

    AECOM
    • United Kingdom and Ireland
    • Competitive

    Due to the diverse nature of our business there are many different teams each with very different responsibilities.

    • Recruiter: AECOM

    Apply for this job

  • Network Innovation Engineer / Analyst - UK Power Sector

    Premium job

    Nortech Management Ltd
    • Birmingham, West Midlands or Pershore (Worcestershire)
    • £30,000 - £35,000 (depending on experience) + benefits

    Network Innovation Engineer / Analyst to join a team of talented technology enthusiasts who design and support the low carbon networks of the future.

    • Recruiter: Nortech Management Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Engineer with Strong telecoms background

    Premium job

    Sure South Atlantic Ltd
    • Falkland Islands

    Sure South Atlantic Ltd currently has a unique engineering opportunity in their Falkland Islands office. Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, teeming ...

    • Recruiter: Sure South Atlantic Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Cyber, Communication, Information and Data Scientist roles

    Premium job

    Dstl
    • Porton Down, Salisbury
    • Competitive salaries

    Information is everything. Use it to serve your country and help keep us safe.

    • Recruiter: Dstl

    Apply for this job

  • Production Engineer

    Premium job

    Compact Engineering
    • Thirsk / Leeds / Banbury / Colchester / Cambridge
    • Salary will be competitive and commensurate with experience, knowledge, aptitude and capability

    A Production Engineer with some knowledge and understanding of radiant energy transfer.

    • Recruiter: Compact Engineering

    Apply for this job

  • Electronics Engineer

    Premium job

    Nikon Metrology Europe
    • Tring, Hertfordshire

    Nikon Metrology is looking for an Electronics Engineer to join our Electronics Team based in Tring (UK).

    • Recruiter: Nikon Metrology Europe

    Apply for this job

  • Engineering Manager

    BAE Systems
    • Hampshire, England, Portsmouth
    • Competitive package

    Would you like to play a vital role in managing and implementing the correct governance in order to enable BAE Systems to provide assurance and integrity of supply chain data? We currently have a vacancy for an Engineering Manager - Product Integrity

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Engineering Project Manager - Electrical & Automation

    Nestle
    • York, North Yorkshire
    • c£45,000 + Car Allowance + Bonus + Excellent Benefits

    Nestlé Product Technology Centre in York currently has an excellent opportunity for an Engineering Project Manager

    • Recruiter: Nestle

    Apply for this job

  • Consultant Engineer - Test

    BAE Systems
    • Farnborough, Hampshire, England
    • Negotiable

    Consultant Engineer - Test Would you like to be a lead within an exciting team working on one of the UK's largest defence projects? We currently have a vacancy for a Consultant Engineer - Test at our site in Ash Vale. As a Consultant Engineer - Test, you

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • ELECTRICAL PROJECT ENGINEER

    SSE
    • Reading, Berkshire
    • SALARY: £37,588 TO £55,669 + CAR (SSE8/9), DEPENDING ON SKILLS AND EXPERIENCE

    SSE are looking to recruit an Electrical Project Engineer into office in Reading

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T