The market has had a shock awakening from its holiday slumber with the news that cybersecurity analysts believe the utility world has experienced its first successful malware attack.
In this context, ‘successful’ denotes a negative result.
Ukraine utility Prykarpattyaoblenergo suffered a six-hour power outage for around 80,000 customers with a breadcrumb trail leading bad to hackers remotely switching breakers.
The attackers also blocked technicians from detecting the attack as well as bombarding the utility’s customer service centre with phone calls to block real customers from alerting Prykarpattyaoblenergo of the blackout.
One US security expert described the attack as leaving the utility “hamstrung on all fronts”.
The motivation for the attack is likely political but for the utility sector, the significance is what can we learn from the hack.
Now that the threat is real as opposed to perceived, 2016 must be the year of being proactive to cybersecurity threats, rather than reactive.
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