Ukraine: Report Says Hackers Caused December Power Failure

A newly released report says the Dec. 23 power failure in western Ukraine that left 80,000 customers in the dark was the work of hackers who used malware to escape detection, according to Reuters.

PowerGridThe report, by the Washington-based SANS Industrial Control Systems (SANS ICS), says the event was a “coordinated intentional attack”.

The report says the attackers hid their intentions by blocking phone complaints to the customer service center, resulting in a highly coordinated attack that, according to report contributor Robert Lee, “blinded them in every way possible.” 

Reuters reports that Ukraine’s state security service blames Russian cybercriminals for the power failure. The US firm iSight Partners allegedly links a Russian hacking group called “Sandworm” to the crime. 

Michael Assante of SANS ICS praised Ukrainian authorities for quickly restoring electricity by manually re-closing breakers but is concerned that more power operators could come under attack using similar techniques.

The Ukrainian energy ministry is launching an official probe into the matter.