A denial-of-service condition arose in an electric company supplying energy to various states in the west of the United States; according to cybersecurity specialists, the incident was serious enough for the American energy authority to be notified.
The cybersecurity incident generated disruptions in the operation of some electrical systems for more than 10 hours during the past March 5, 2019, according to the report submitted by the company to the U.S. Department of Energy.
“We received a report on a denial of service condition in an electric company last March 5; apparently, the incident is related to a vulnerability that had not been updated”, said a spokesman for the Department of Energy. “We continue to work to ensure the clarification of the facts and the opening to the public of the information to mitigate risks arising from this incident “, the spokesman concluded.
The Department of Energy decided not to disclose the name of the affected company, but it is known that it provides electricity to multiple customers in the territory of Los Angeles, California, Salt Lake County, Utah, and Converse County, Wyoming.
Cybersecurity specialists emphasize that the incident had no impact on the generation, reliability of the power grid or failures in service to end consumers. At the time of the report, the Western Electricity Coordinating Council, a regional energy authority, decided not to comment on the incident.
Energy networks are considered by the U.S. government as critical structures and have become a frequent target of malicious hacker groups. However, according to experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS), there are very few occasions when one of these attacks is successful.
One of the most recognized cases of alleged attack on electrical infrastructure occurred in the year 2015 in Ukraine; on that occasion, a failure in the country’s electricity grid paralyzed the service for more than two days, affecting more than 250k Ukraine inhabitants. Recently, the Venezuelan government accused Donald Trump’s administration of causing massive failures in the South American country’s power grid, although these allegations have not been backed up with evidence.