Ukraine blames Russia for cyberattack on grid

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Ukraine will investigate a cyberattack on its energy grid, the energy ministry said Thursday, an event that the country’s security service believes originated in Russia, Reuters reports.

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A power company in western Ukraine said on Dec. 23 that “interference” in its network had left large sections of the area it serves without power, including the regional capital Ivano-Frankivsk.

"We found that the [malware] came from Russia," the Ukrainian Security Service SBU told Reuters on Thursday. "It was an attempt to interfere in the system. But it was discovered and prevented."

The malware failed to work as intended and Ukrainian authorities were able to neutralize it, thereby preventing a much broader blackout, an SBU spokesperson said.

The energy minister said Thursday that it has set up a special commission to investigate the incident.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have been in a steep decline since Russia annexed Crimea last year and began supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine.

Russia has yet to comment on the allegations.

U.S. officials have warned that hackers from Russia as well as Iran and China are testing U.S. critical infrastructure networks for vulnerabilities.

National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers told lawmakers last fall that China and “one or two” other countries would be able to shut down portions of critical U.S. infrastructure with a cyberattack.

If hackers moved from grid-mapping to a deliberate attack, the consequences could be devastating. A blackout across 15 states and Washington, D.C., could cost the economy hundreds of billions of dollars, raise mortality rates at hospitals and cut the nation’s water supply, according to a recent study.

Iranian hackers infiltrated a small New York dam in 2013 in a previously undisclosed incident revealed earlier this month. Investigators said that the hackers didn’t take control of the system but were probing its defenses.