Internet of Energy powers up hackers threat to electricity grids

Internet of Energy powers up hackers threat to electricity grids

When a wave of cyber attacks threatened Australia’s critical infrastructure this year, Canberra took the threat seriously, stepping up efforts to track cyber criminals and to boost funding for security agencies.

Australia was one of many targets in 2020: cyber attacks on infrastructure were reported in Germany, Ukraine and Azerbaijan, among others, while Washington imposed sanctions on Russia for targeting utilities in the US and the Middle East.

As power infrastructure is upgraded and becomes increasingly reliant on internet connectivity — an evolution known as the Internet of Energy (IoE) — cyber criminals have more opportunities to disrupt energy supplies.

“The number one reason for attacks is ransomware,” says Gareth Williams, vice-president for secure communications and information systems at Thales UK, a unit of the French defence and technology group. “We’ve noticed a shift from ‘cyber hoodies’ demanding small amounts of money from multiple easy targets to hackers spending more time creating sophisticated malware to take out essential energy services for a huge sum of money.”

The 2017 WannaCry attack on the NHS — a malicious code that took advantage of a flaw in commonly used software — highlighted how disruptive ransomware can be for critical infr ..