Over 1,000 European and US energy firms hit by Russian ‘Energetic Bear’ virus that let hackers take control of power plants

Tuesday, July 1, 2014
By Paul Martin

Attack ‘bears the hallmarks of a state-sponsored operation’
Timestamps show hackers based in Eastern Europe
Malware has now been identified and can be removed

By Mark Prigg
1 July 2014

Over 1,000 energy firms were infected with a sophisticated cyber weapon that gave hackers access to power plant control systems, it has been revealed.

Called ‘Energetic Bear’, the malware was unmasked by security firm Symantec.

It said the software allows operators to monitor energy consumption in real time – and to cripple physical systems such as wind turbines, gas pipelines and power plants at the click of a mouse.

The attackers, known to Symantec as Dragonfly, managed to compromise a number of strategically important organizations for spying purposes and, if they had used the sabotage capabilities open to them, could have caused damage or disruption to energy supplies in affected countries.

The attack is believed to have compromised the computer systems of more than 1,000 organisations in 84 countries in a campaign spanning 18 months.

‘Among the targets of Dragonfly were energy grid operators, major electricity generation firms, petroleum pipeline operators, and energy industry industrial equipment providers,’ Symantec said.

‘The majority of the victims were located in the United States, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, and Poland.’

The most ambitious attack campaign saw it compromise a number of industrial control system (ICS) equipment providers, infecting their software with a remote access-type Trojan.

This caused companies to install the malware when downloading software updates for computers running ICS equipment.

These infections not only gave the attackers a beachhead in the targeted organizations’ networks, but also gave them the means to mount sabotage operations against infected ICS computers.

The Rest…HERE

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