December power outage in Kiev was cyberattack, investigators say

An investigation determined that a power blackout that affected Kiev, Ukraine on December 17 was cause by a cyberattack. Ukraine has blamed Russia for thousands of cyberattacks occurring in the last two months of 2016. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI

KIEV, Ukraine, Jan. 11 (UPI) — An electric power blackout in Kiev in December was a cyberattack, Ukrainian investigators researching the incident said.

Oleksii Yasnskiy of the cybersecurity company Information’s Systems Security Partners, said the incident was similar to one which occurred almost exactly one year ago, and was blamed on the Russian security services. The latest attack was not attributed to any Russian agency, but Ukraine has said Russia directed thousands of cyberattacks at Ukraine in the closing days of 2016.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in December that hackers targeted Ukrainian government agencies 6,500 times in the last two months of 2016, an indication, he said, that Russia was waging a cyberwar against Ukraine. The targets included Ukraine’s national railway and the Ministry of Finance.

Of the December blackout, Yasnskiy said, “The attacks in 2016 and 2015 were not much different. The only distinction was that the attacks of 2016 became more complex and were much better organized.”

His firm investigated the 2016 incident for Ukrenergo, the national energy company. Ukrenergo said at the time the Dec. 17 power outage started at the Pivnichna substation outside Kiev, lasted about one hour and amounted to one-fifth of the city’s power consumption at that time.


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