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Ukraine says Russian hackers tried to attack Ukrainian power grid again

Typing on a computer. (Dreamstime/TNS)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Ukraine says Russian hackers sought to attack and disable Ukraine’s electricity grid for a second time last week but were thwarted.

Government spokesman Victor Zhora said on April 12 that the attack was carried out by “a military hacking team,” whose aim was “to disable a number of facilities, including electricity substations.”

“They did not succeed, and we’re investigating,” Zhora said, adding that the attack was likely carried out to support Russia’s current military activities in eastern Ukraine.

The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine said in a statement on April 12 that the hacking group, which has been dubbed Sandworm in the past, had deployed data-wiping malware on computers that control high-voltage substations in Ukraine.

The organization, which is one of the government’s main cyber-divisions, said hackers succeeded with an “initial compromise” in February.

“The disconnection of electrical substations and the decommissioning of the company’s infrastructure was scheduled for Friday evening, April 8, 2022,” it said.

Officials managed to prevent the attack from taking place, the organization said.

The statement did not say which Ukrainian energy provider was targeted.

Russia has consistently denied accusations it has launched cyberattacks on Ukraine.

The Slovak cybersecurity firm ESET, which was involved in the investigation, described the malware as an upgraded version of a malicious program that caused power blackouts in Kyiv in 2016.

Sandworm is a hacking group that Western experts and intelligence services assert is linked to Russia’s military intelligence service.