Ukraine to investigate suspected computer attack on energy grid

by Reuters
Thursday, 31 December 2015 14:08 GMT

KIEV, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Ukraine will investigate a suspected computer malware attack on its energy grid, the energy ministry said on Thursday, an incident the country's secret service has blamed on Russia.

A power company in western Ukraine, Prykarpattyaoblenergo, said on Dec. 23 that a swath of the area it serves had been left without energy, including the regional capital Ivano-Frankivsk, due to "interference" in the work of the system.

The Ukrainian Security Service SBU later blamed Russia, which has not so far commented on the allegation.

On Thursday, the energy ministry said it had set up a special commission to investigate what happened.

The SBU accuses Russian security agencies of launching the attack but, despite the blackout, said it had managed to thwart the malware.

"We found that the package of information (malware) came from Russia," an SBU spokeswoman told Reuters on Thursday. "It was an attempt to interfere in the system. But it was discovered and prevented."

The malware had failed to kick in as intended and was neutralised, she said, saying the region would have faced a much longer blackout if it had worked.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine have sharply deteriorated since Moscow annexed Crimea last year and supported pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Crimea has lost at least one quarter of its power after Ukraine switched off supplies to the contested peninsula on Wednesday, a situation that Ukrainian police blamed on unidentified saboteurs blowing up an electricity pylon. (Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Editing by Andrew Osborn and David Stamp)

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