Hackers, Malwares, and Disasters

By Ashley

Have you or anyone you know ever been hacked, or experienced a blackout?  Many countries around the world are concerned about the growing threat of the Russian government and their hackers, and the possibility that they could cause those kinds of disasters to reliable technology.  In 2016 and currently in 2017, the United States government has discovered more ways that Russia has become superior in cyberwarfare.  The U.S. is still trying to gather more information, including from the cyber attack in Ukraine, and different malwares the U.S. has found before they were put into action.  The general public and the military need to know and understand more about cyberwarfare.

Last December, Russian hackers snuck in and hid a preprogrammed genuine malware cyber bomb into a computer control room located in Kiev, Ukraine.  The cyber bomb was able to shut down part of Kiev’s power grid, and caused a terrible blackout.  The cyber bomb was put into action at 11:53, on December 16, 2016, and left 225,000 people without power, and in darkness for 75 minutes. Security researcher Robert Lee, CEO of Dragos, the first cybersecurity ecosystem, says that, “the malware wasn’t built as a one-time weapon. It’s designed from the ground up to be easily reconfigured for a variety of targets and contains some payloads that weren’t even fired off in the Kiev attack.”  United States’s power companies are worrying that the hackers are planning to attack the U.S., and poses a great threat towards the country’s reliability systems, such as infrastructure in hospitals.  The United States is trying to decide how they can defend against these cyber weapons if they ever targeted the U.S.

Dragos, the cybersecurity firm mentioned earlier, studied the malware found in one of Kiev’s computer control rooms, and found that, “ it could be deployed against U.S. electric transmission and distribution systems to devastating effect” says Sergio Caltagirone, director of threat intelligence for Dragos.  Dragos has named the disastrous malware that shuts down electrical power grids, “Crash Override.”  The malware was made from scratch, which could mean that the Russian hackers could have many more wherever they are built them.  The malware fortunately can not cause any major blackouts, but only small regional blackouts for about an hour, which can still cause a devastating effect.  Although the United States knows much more about the Russian hackers than about two years ago, they are still trying to figure out effective ways to stop cyber attacks from Russian malwares.  

The attack on part of Kiev has had an important impact on the United States’ approach on the hacking against the U.S. and other countries. If they did not know about the cyber attack, they probably would not know that Russia has already developed a working and effective weapon.  What is the next step in fighting against the threat of Russia, and protecting the citizens of the United States?