Details of Attack on Electric Utility Emerge


The March 5 DDoS attack interrupted communications between generating facilities and the electrical grid in three western states.

For the first time, a malware attack is known to have caused service disruptions of the power grid in three states. The March 5 distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against a Salt Lake City-based renewable energy developer triggered communications outages over the course of 12 hours that affected electric utilities in Utah, Wyoming, and California.

The event, triggered by a DDOS attack against sPower — which claims to be the biggest private solar power operator in the United States — temporarily cut grid visibility to roughly 500 megawatts of generating capacity from a dozen solar and wind-power sites.

An unpatched vulnerability in sPower’s Cisco firewalls was the target of the attack, which, although affecting communications within the grid, did not cause service interruptions to any customers.

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