Newly identified malware related to a cyberattack on Ukraine last year has security experts concerned about the U.S. electric grid, The Hill reports.
Security companies Dragos and ESET unveiled "Crash Override," also known as "Industroyer," which according to researchers is the second piece of malware to specifically target industrial control systems for disruption.
"This threat should absolutely make grid operators and the security community take these types of threats more seriously," Dragos founder and chief executive Robert M. Lee, told The Hill.
"This is definitely an evolution of tradecraft we haven't seen before."
The Ukraine attack last year left Kiev without power for roughly one hour, and is speculated to be of Russian origin.
A separate report from antivirus company ESET found that "industroyer is a particularly dangerous threat, since it is capable of controlling electricity substation switches and circuit breakers directly. To do so, it uses industrial communication protocols used worldwide in power-supply infrastructure, transportation control systems, and other critical infrastructure systems (such as water and gas)."
The Department of Homeland Security's computer emergency readiness team warned that this malware "could be modified to target U.S. critical information networks and systems."
Lee added: "Everybody actually took the threat seriously. I was really impressed with the response by government and the sector."
The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing last Tuesday, where Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, said, "I worry about cyberattacks on our power grid."
Amit Yoran, chairman and chief executive of Tenable Network Security, testified at that hearing, saying, "I think that's an ongoing challenge."
He continued: "From a security perspective, there's a great challenge in that industry in that the systems are incapable of being updated or there's tremendous risk in updating those systems, which unlike our mobile phones or desktop PCs, have a lifespan measured in decades."
Bill Wright, who counsels Symantec on government affairs and policy, said the U.S. is "more advanced on our security of those power grids," than in other countries.
"That said, there's always going to be susceptibility," he added.
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