LONDON, U.K. - The energy network running electricity supply in U.K. and Ireland is revealed to have been hacked and security analysts have stated that the hackers have been traced to be Russians, linked to Russian President Putin’s spies.
Reports have stated that Russian hackers attacked the U.K.’s national grid sparking fears that electricity supplies could be cut by these cyber terrorists.
According to security analysts, the group was backed by Putin’s Kremlin and targeted the Republic of Ireland's energy sector and tried to infiltrate control systems.
A report in The Times revealed that last month senior engineers at the country's Electricity Supply Board (ESB), which supplies both Northern Ireland and the Republic, were hit with a ‘phishing’ email that tried to trick staff into downloading malicious software.
The emails were later revealed to be sent by a group linked to Russia’s GRU intelligence agency.
So far, reports have clarified that there is no evidence of disruption that has been uncovered, but analysts fear that the hackers could have stolen sensitive information including passwords that could later be used to access systems.
Even as Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre is investigating the attempt, experts said that the attackers were trying to use Ireland to test out their cyber weaponry.
Oz Alashe, a former special forces Lieutenant Colonel and chief executive officer of cyber security platform CybSafe said the attempt was a “spear phishing” attack.
A spear phishing attack is like a regular phishing attack, but it involves the use of emails to illicit information or make the user click on a link to trigger malicious software.
It however, utilises personal information on targets to heighten the chances of success.
Alashe said that there has been an increase in reported attacks on crucial national infrastructure around the world.
He said, “Attribution is exceptionally hard to do but a large proportion of these attacks are believed to be state sponsored. You’re either trying to cause chaos, or just probe, or destabilise rather than make a financial gain.”
Doubts have been high because the country hosts the offices of a number of major corporations including Apple and Facebook.
Fake emails that were sent to engineers reportedly contained inside technical knowledge about the plants that the hackers were trying to access.
Experts now fear that similar attacks could be launched on other parts of the U.K.’s critical infrastructure.
Reports of the attack have come amid a renewed focus on cyber security following the increase in the recent ransomware attacks across the globe.
The recent attacks also come immediately after hackers unleashed a major assault on computer systems around the world causing huge disruption to companies and governments in countries including the U.K., U.S. and Russia.
Last month, the Petya ransomware left thousands of computers victimized before encrypting their files and holding them hostage until a fee was paid.
It not only shut down Chernobyl's radiation monitoring system, but also U.K. advertising giant WPP.