back to article Crumbs! Stricken Kiev blames Russian hackers for Xmas eve outages

The Ukrainian government is blaming power outages in the Western Ukraine on “hacker attacks by Russia[n] special services”. Malware has been found in the networks of some utilities, according to the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU). Moreover, these malware intrusions coincided with a “non-stop telephone flood at utility …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Smart meters...

    Anyone feeling good about rolling out Smart Meters to homes if this is confirmed?

    Kinda wondering what fuzzing the comms protocol would turn up (from DOSs' to potential remote exploits, etc), on both client and server side. Server side remote exploits from Smart Meters aren't out of the question unfortunately. :(

  2. Loud Speaker


    Stricken Kiev?

    I prefer Chicken Kiev!

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Next: "Madame Nuland found crisp'd in shorted power line"

    Seriously, Kiev?

    For all we know, it might have been patriotic Nazis wanting to to get heard.

  4. Doctor_Wibble

    Possible most tenuous explanation

    And not The Ten Uous (obscurest reference yet?).

    FTA> A DDoS on a telephone system and malware on networks — especially if only corporate PCs are affected — don’t explain supply outages.

    Phone trouble : if the controls are handled via modems then keeping the lines busy will stop the commands e.g. 'pedal faster' from going through.

    Malware : if you plant enough malware on enough machines you can max out their CPUs, draw too much power, and if there's been a miscalculation on how thick the supply cable needs to be, then the cable will melt, sending molten copper down through the ceiling into the water tank below, solidifying and blocking the overflow, the tank overfills and the spillage goes through the next ceiling down and directly into the main control panel for the local traffic lights which then go wrong, causing a truck to crash into the nearest pylon, bringing down the main regional power cable.

    There might even be some cool dramatic music to go with it.

  5. Anonymous Coward


    Moreover, these malware intrusions coincided with a “non-stop telephone flood at utility plants’ technical support departments”...

    In other words, just like normal.

  6. dotdavid

    Spetsnaz or squirrels?

    Couldn't it be secret squirrels?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Spetsnaz or squirrels?

      Secret Spetznaz Squirrels, the animated series - yeah, I'd watch that.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Spetsnaz or squirrels?

      Yes, yes it could, but they would have help from one Morroco (n) Mole? Like they always say: "Be cautious of the Moroccans you meet in Moscow.

    3. JustWondering

      Re: Spetsnaz or squirrels?

      Russian hacker squirrels?

  7. x 7

    the Ukranian "war" is Russia's practice for Putin's intended war against Western Europe.

    Ukraine is to Russia what the Spanish civil war was to Germany. Likewise his present airstrike involvement in Syria

    You can expect Putin and his boys to test every new or novel technology they think they can get away with, just to see if it works.

  8. thames

    The Ukrainian electrical system is pretty creaky to begin with. Combine several decades of being an economic basket case, under-investment, massive ongoing corruption, and now on top of it a civil war/"little green men", and just keeping the lights on at all is surprising. Outages during peak demand season? That should be pretty much a given.

    The Russians may well be having a go at them, but so much of Ukraine's infrastructure is so outdated there may not actually be much that a "cyber" attack can actually do on the generating side. Of course they could get into the PC network in the business side, but that shouldn't be able to shut down the generating side. And yes, when the electric power goes out, customers do tend to flood the utility with calls of "the power is out" (like they didn't already know that), so that isn't unusual.

    I could go into a lot of boring technical detail, but with generating plants and most of the coal mines on the other side of the front line, gas supplies from Russia for more plants terminated (by mutual disagreement/invective), and right wing militants blowing up the wrong power lines and cutting of parts of Ukraine as well as Crimea, this could be a cold, dark winter for a lot of unfortunate Ukrainians.

    1. harmjschoonhoven

      Boring technical details


      In 2011 47.6% of total electricity generated in the Ukraine was from nuclear power. The largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, is located in Ukraine. Besides the Ukraine has several large hydroelectric power plants.

      Coal is however essential for steel production in the Donetsk region.

      1. thames

        Re: Boring technical details

        Here's the figures for 2014: 45% nuclear, 6% hydro-electric, and the rest fossil fuel - so coal and gas. In other words, half of electric power generation capacity can be affected by coal or gas shortages.

        More than 90% of Ukraine's coal comes from the Donbass, which is where the war is.

        In 2014, 75% of Ukrainian coal production was for power generation. Coal production has plummeted, and Ukraine has had to import coal from Russia and South Africa.

        So, if no coal or gas then the lights go out. Both have to be imported using scarce foreign exchange. Hence, my comment about unfortunate Ukrainians may be facing a cold, dark winter.

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