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Hackers cause a power blackout for the first known time

Hackers cause a power blackout for the first known time
PHOTO COURTESY OF SHUTTERSTOCK

It's just days into 2016, and cyberattacks are already ramping up to frightening new levels. A recent attack, which left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity in the dead of winter, could have killed people.

This cyberattack, which may have been state-sponsored, is the first known successful attack on a country's power grid. We've told you before about hackers trying to break into utilities' computer systems, including Iranian hackers recently accessing a power system in New York state. But, so far no attack has caused widespread power outages. Until now.

The Sandworm gang of hackers, possibly based in Russia, has infected at least three electricity substations in Ukraine, and shut them down. That left hundreds of thousands of people without electricity.

The Sandworm gang used a malware called BlackEnergy that was first discovered in 2007, and has since been updated a few times. It causes problems, such as preventing you from starting your computer. Their Ukraine attack couldn't have been simpler. The hackers infected Microsoft Office software with malware that looked like macros.

Next page: BlackEnergy's KillDisk destroys hard-drive
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