Irish energy networks targeted by hackers

Irish energy networks have been targeted by hackers recently and have been threatened with more severe attacks in future.

According to the reports in "The Times", the senior engineers at the Electricity Supply Board(ESB), which is responsible for the electricity supply in both Northern Ireland and the Republic were sent emails containing malicious codes which are presumed to be linked to Russia's GRU intelligence agency.

According to the reports given by analysts to the newspaper , the cyber attack was meant to intrude system handling electricity grid and wanted to take control of systems that could lead to major disrupts similar to incident sometimes back in Ukraine.

According to the investigations by Ireland's National Cyber Security Centre, there was no major disruption caused to the system but potential hackers could have stolen passwords and other sensitive information regarding ESB system.

Oz Alashe, chief executive officer of cyber security platform Cybsafe and a former special forces Lieutenant attributed the cyber attack as a "spear phishing" attack.

Like all other phishing attacks, this was too carried via personalized email containing malicious code and the user was tricked to click on a malicious link so that the malicious software gets triggered and all the sensitive information gets compromised.

According to Mr. Alashe, as told to "The Independent ", there has been a steep rise in a number of cyber attacks on crucial national infrastructures around the globe.

“Attribution is exceptionally hard to do but a large proportion of these attacks are believed to be state sponsored,” he added.

“You’re either trying to cause chaos, or just probe, or destabilize rather than make a financial gain.”

The analysts further added that some countries are outsourcing the job of hacking of important infrastructures of other countries to criminal groups who in turn get the monetary benefits from the state. 

According to American officials, the Russian government was behind the attack on Ireland ESB.

A report released by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on vulnerabilities in British defense earlier this month warned of the growing threat of cyber attacks to the West’s important information systems.

According to RUSI reports, “In any major future conflict, an important part of the battle will be threats to the UK’s critical national infrastructure from hostile cyber operations,” further, it added, “The cyber threat spectrum is not only relevant to defence but to government as a whole, especially to critical national infrastructure and the broader economy.”

While Vladimir Putin has denied any links regarding state sponsored cyber attacks on any enemy states. while he hinted that "patriot minded hackers" may have fiddled with American presidential elections but he further added, “We're not doing this on the state level.”
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