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Die erfolgreiche kybernetische Sabotage

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Quelle : WIRED, USA


Everything We Know About Ukraine’s Power Plant Hack

Author: Kim Zetter.Kim Zetter Security

WIRED | 2016-01-20

When the US government demonstrated in 2007 how hackers could take down a power plant by physically destroying a generator with just 21 lines of code, many in the power industry dismissed the demo as far-fetched. Some even accused the government of faking the so-called Aurora Generator Test to scare the public.

That attack would certainly require a lot of skill and knowledge to pull off, but hackers don’t need to destroy mega-size equipment to plunge a community into darkness. The recent hack of electric utilities in Ukraine shows how easy it can be to cut electricity, with the caveat that taking down the grid isn’t always the same as keeping it down.

In the run-up to holidays last month, two power distribution companies in Ukraine said that hackers had hijacked their systems to cut power to more than 80,000 people. The intruders also sabotaged operator workstations on their way out the digital door to make it harder to restore electricity to customers. The lights came back on in three hours in most cases, but because the hackers had sabotaged management systems, workers had to travel to substations to manually close breakers the hackers had remotely opened.

Days after the outage, Ukrainian officials appeared to blame Russia for the attack, saying that Ukraine’s intelligence service had detected and prevented an intrusion attempt “by Russian special services” against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Last week, speaking at the S4 security conference, former NSA and CIA spy chief Gen. Michael Hayden warned that the attacks were a harbinger of things to come for the US, and that Russia and North Korea were two of the most likely culprits if the US power grid were ever hit.

If hackers were responsible for the outages in Ukraine, these would be the first known blackouts ever caused by a cyberattack. But just how accurate are the news reports? How vulnerable are US systems to similar attacks? And just how solid is the attribution that Russia did it?

To separate fact from speculation, we’ve collected everything we know and don’t know about the outages. This includes new information from a Ukrainian expert involved in the investigation, who says at least eight utilities in Ukraine were targeted, not two.