KIEV Dec 20 Ukraine is investigating a
suspected cyber attack on Kiev's power grid at the weekend, the
latest in a series of strikes on its energy and financial
infrastructure, the head of the state-run power distributor said
Vsevolod Kovalchuk, acting chief director of Ukrenergo, told
Reuters that a power distribution station near Kiev unexpectedly
switched off early on Sunday, leaving the northern part of the
capital without electricity.
It comes after a Ukrainian security chief said last week
that Ukraine needed to beef up its cyber defences, citing a
spate of attacks on government websites that he said originated
Kovalchuk said the outage amounted to 200 megawatts of
capacity, equivalent to about a fifth of the capital's energy
consumption at night.
"That is a lot. This kind of blackout is very, very rare,"
Kovalchuk told Reuters by phone.
He said there were only two possible explanations for the
accident: either a hardware failure or external interference.
The company's IT specialists had found transmission data
that had not been included in standard protocols, suggesting
that external interference was the likeliest scenario.
Over the past month, Ukraine's finance and defence
ministries and the state treasury have said their websites had
been temporarily downed by attacks aimed at disrupting their
Kovalchuk said Ukraine's state security service had joined
the investigation. "There are no final conclusions yet about
what it was, but experts say that this was something new and
they have not encountered this before," Kovalchuk said.
Last December, another Ukrainian regional power company
Prykarpattyaoblenergo reported an outage, saying the area
affected included the regional capital Ivano-Frankivsk.
Ukraine's state security service blamed Russia.
Experts widely described that incident as the first known
power outage caused by a cyber attack. The U.S. cyber firm
iSight Partners identified the perpetrator as a Russian hacking
group known as "Sandworm."
They said power distributors had ignored their own security
rules by allowing critical computers to be hooked up to the
Internet when they should have been kept within an internal
(Editing by Matthias Williams and Richard Balmforth)