Power blackout in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil; is this the biggest cyberattack ever?

A massive blackout left millions of people without power in some South American countries, such as Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay, over the last weekend. Although the exact causes of the incident are not yet known, network security experts and authorities consider it likely to be a cyberattack; “there is still nothing confirmed, but we must not rule out any possibility”, Argentine government officials said.

The service was reestablished in the Argentine capital on Sunday night, according to officials from Edenor and Edesur, the companies in charge of electricity distribution in Argentina; service is expected to be fully restored in all affected territories over the next few hours.

The two companies mentioned that an “external incident” caused the blackout. Argentina’s electricity grid is connected to Paraguay and Uruguay, so these countries were also affected, as well as some areas in Chile and Brazil. The incident occurred in the interconnection system in Argentina, which is responsible for the distribution of most of the electricity in the country, mentioned the network security experts.

On Sunday afternoon the energy had been completely restored in Chile and Brazil. On the other hand, Uruguay and Paraguay are close to 100% electricity coverage, although the extent of this incident in these two countries is still unknown. However, contrary to the Argentine companies’ version, the Uruguayan authorities mentioned that the service was still interrupted last night.

Concerns have recently increased about the ability of some governments to deploy cyberattacks capable of disrupting other countries’ energy infrastructure; Various media outlets reported a couple of days ago a suspected U.S. government’s cyberattacks campaign against Russia’s power grids with the intention of injecting malware capable of causing severe power outages.

In addition, according to network security specialists of the International Cyber Security Institute (IICS), Russia has also deployed such attacks in the past; the most recent example is the interruption in Ukraine’s electricity service, allegedly caused from Russia.