Menu
Hackers of two Ukrainian utilities probably hit mining and railroad targets, too

Hackers of two Ukrainian utilities probably hit mining and railroad targets, too

The attacks may have been test runs for the devastating power-company hacks

The attackers who crippled Ukrainian power operators in December probably committed attacks shortly before against a mining company and a railway operator, Trend Micro said Thursday.

The security company said its latest technical research shows that the same malware -- dubbed BlackEnergy and KillDisk -- were probably used in the earlier actions. It didn't name the targets of those attacks, which took place in November and December.

"There is remarkable overlap between the malware used, infrastructure, naming conventions, and to some degree, the timing of use for this malware," wrote Kyle Wilhoit, a senior threat researcher.

The cyberattacks against the two utilities, Prykarpattyaoblenergo and Kyivoblenergo, have caused widespread concern in the security community, which has warned that attacks against industrial control systems could cause great damage.

Kyivoblenergo said 80,000 customers lost power for six hours after 30 substations went offline. Service was restored after operators took manual control and closed circuit breakers.

The malware used in the attacks, known as Black Energy, has been linked by the security firm iSight Partners to a group nicknamed the Sandworm Team, which is suspected to be from Russia. Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been tense since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

BlackEnergy probably infected the large mining company, according to Wilhoit. The malware in the earlier attack communicated with the same command-and-control servers as the tools that infected the two utilities, he wrote.

The mining company also was infected with several versions of KillDisk, which is designed to make a computer unusable by overwriting the Master Boot Record (MBR), the first sector of a PC’s hard drive. KillDisk also overwrites files with junk data.

"While none of the exact samples in the prior utility attacks appear to have been used against the mining organization, the specific samples witnessed perform the same exact functionality as those witnessed at the Ukrainian power utilities, with very little difference," Wilhoit wrote.

There also are indications that KillDisk affected the railway operator. Trend Micro believes that BlackEnergy was probably on the railroad's systems, too.

"The infections in the mining and train companies may have just been preliminary infections where the attackers are just attempting to test the code base," Wilhoit wrote.


Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Featured

Slideshows

Sizing up the NZ security spectrum - Where's the channel sweet spot?

Sizing up the NZ security spectrum - Where's the channel sweet spot?

From new extortion schemes, outside threats and rising cyber attacks, the art of securing the enterprise has seldom been so complex or challenging. With distance no longer a viable defence, Kiwi businesses are fighting to stay ahead of the security curve. In total, 28 per cent of local businesses faced a cyber attack last year, with the number in New Zealand set to rise in 2017. Yet amidst the sensationalism, media headlines and ongoing high profile breaches, confusion floods the channel, as partners seek strategic methods to combat rising sophistication from attackers. In sizing up the security spectrum, this Reseller News roundtable - in association with F5 Networks, Kaspersky Lab, Tech Data, Sophos and SonicWall - assessed where the channel sweet spot is within the New Zealand channel. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Sizing up the NZ security spectrum - Where's the channel sweet spot?
Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours

The channel came together for another round of After Hours, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and partners descending on The Jefferson in Auckland. Photos by Maria Stefina.​

Kiwi channel comes together for another round of After Hours
Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland

Emerging start-up Consegna has officially launched its cloud offerings in the New Zealand market, through a kick-off event held at Seafarers Building in Auckland.​ Founded in June 2016, the Auckland-based business is backed by AWS and supported by a global team of cloud specialists, leveraging global managed services partnerships with Rackspace locally.

Consegna comes to town with AWS cloud offerings launch in Auckland
Show Comments