Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Power Politics

Sabotage Blacks Out Millions In Crimea 156

HughPickens.com writes: In a preview of what the U.S. may one day face with cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid, Ivan Nechepurenko reports at the NY Times that power lines in southern Ukraine that supply Crimea have been knocked down by saboteurs, leaving millions without electricity. Four local power plants, including two nuclear ones, scaled back production because they had no means to distribute electricity. More than 1.6 million people still lacked power on Monday morning, Russia's Energy Ministry said in a statement. Local power plants in Crimea, as well as backup generators, were being used to provide power to hospitals, schools and other vital facilities. The Crimean authorities declared Monday a day off for non-government workers and declared a state of emergency, which can last as long as one month.

It was not immediately clear who destroyed the main electric pylons on Friday and Sunday, but the blasted-away stump of at least one tower near the demonstrators was wrapped in the distinctive blue Crimean Tatar flag with a yellow trident in the upper left-hand corner. Tatar activists blockaded the site, saying they would prevent repairs until Russia released political prisoners and allowed international organizations to monitor human rights in Crimea. The activists claim that the 300,000-member minority has faced systematic repression since Russia annexed the peninsula in March 2014. In the meantime Russia is building an "energy bridge" to Crimea that officials hope will supply most of the peninsula's need and its first phase will begin operating by the end of this year.

Defending the power grid in the United States is challenging from an organizational point of view. There are about 3,200 utilities, all of which operate a portion of the electricity grid, but most of these individual networks are interconnected. The latest version of The Department of Defense's Cyber Strategy has as its third strategic goal, "Be prepared to defend the U.S. homeland and U.S. vital interests from disruptive or destructive cyberattacks of significant consequence."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Sabotage Blacks Out Millions In Crimea

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Surely blowing something up is similar to a cyberattack!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Absolutely! This is exactly the kind of cyberattack they would have used in the 1930's.
    • Could it be a revenge attack by these guys?
      http://qha.com.ua/en/society/g... [qha.com.ua]

    • by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @02:16PM (#50986745)

      It was not immediately clear who destroyed the main electric pylons on Friday and Sunday...

      Maybe they were using networking over power lines, and somebody (evil hacker!) arranged a DDOS such that all of the packets arrived at that pylon at the same time, causing that pylon to explode?

      Did anyone else have the image of the phrase "You Must Construct Additional Pylons!" (or the local equivalent) being repeated over and over all over Crimea after this happened?

    • by mellon ( 7048 )

      Plus, seriously, the U.S. is like Crimea? We have been invaded by a foreign power, with support from some citizens and opposition from others? I'm sorry, but there is literally no commonality between the two cases other than that both of them nominally involve the interruption of electrical power delivery. This isn't analysis: it's fear-mongering.

    • Electronic warfare

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 23, 2015 @01:30PM (#50986311)

    "In a preview of what the U.S. may one day face with cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid"

    What the hell does physical sabotage have to do with cyberattacks? Who's behind the spin on this story and what is their agenda?

    • by jenningsthecat ( 1525947 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @01:48PM (#50986489)

      What the hell does physical sabotage have to do with cyberattacks?

      Um, maybe it's because a cyberattack IS a form of sabotage, and because in either case the grid goes down, with similar consequences. Just guessin'...

      • The consequences in common are that the power goes out. Couldn't we have guessed that already? Perhaps the important discovery is that it'll mean a vacation day?

    • What the hell does physical sabotage have to do with cyberattacks? Who's behind the spin on this story and what is their agenda?

      Ask Hugh the nose picker... He's the one who invented it with the express intent to get people who didn't RTFA to draw conclusions that were never actually articulated.

    • It does make some sense in a way: most, if not all, of the U.S. power grid is heavily interconnected and controlled by networked computer. If the computer network would be compromised, and this is much "safer" and easier than physically severing connections, it would actually be rather simple to induce a cascade failure that takes down a significant portion of the nationwide grid. It is even possible that the cascade could be designed to significantly overload substations and interconnects past what the bre

    • What it's like to take down a power grid. The cause would be different but the result the same. Sometimes you need to think - you can't be spoon fed all the time.
  • maybe there's something to those guys after all.

    • Oh sure. The best thing to do in case of a power outage is to go alone into the woods with a hunting knife, a backpack, two guns, and no antibiotics. Then live the rest of your life in a cave.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I'm not a prepper, but your characterization is amusing. Perhaps you'd find comfort in knowing that people like you are always welcome in Kim Jong-Un's paradise, where all your needs are taken care of.

      • The Preppers are planning for something worse than a power outage. They are prepping for the time it doesn't come back on.

        • The Preppers are planning for something worse than a power outage. They are prepping for the time it doesn't come back on.

          I thought they were prepping for the time when the zombie apocalypse happens?

          • Their reasons vary, and the effectiveness of their prepping certainly can be questioned, but it's all for something a bit worse than a power outage. Superplague, nuclear war, UN takeover, natural disaster.

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @01:33PM (#50986341)

    >> Defending the power grid in the United States

    WTF is with the US utility tie-in? Did California declare war on Nevada overnight? Is the South risin' again?

    The problem here is that there's a low-grade civil war brewing in Crimea after Russia's invasion. Wake me up when/if the US has a similar problem. Zzzzzz....

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      >> Defending the power grid in the United States

      WTF is with the US utility tie-in? Did California declare war on Nevada overnight? Is the South risin' again?

      The problem here is that there's a low-grade civil war brewing in Crimea after Russia's invasion. Wake me up when/if the US has a similar problem. Zzzzzz....

      It's an odd tie-in, but the point that the US has this kind of vulnerability is valid. Especially in the Southwest. California's environmental regulations are so strict that it is easier to build a power station just on the Utah border and then run the power line all the way to Los Angeles. Arizona has similar issues, where the power plants are in the north of the state, but supply power to the cities. In Arizona's case, they depend on that power for pumping water also. You would not have to sever many

    • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

      I think the point is there are some major not very well protected long haul power lines outside some of our major population centers. Events of 2004 proved there isn't enough redundancy in the system overall and there exist some points of failure that would likely lead to large scale blackouts that could last days. The lead time on replacement of some large transformers is weeks to months as well.

      A well researched attack that took out difficult to replace infrastructure like those transformers or perhaps

      • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @02:23PM (#50986839)

        >> probably is within reach of some guys with truck bombs and suicide drivers

        Like I said, then it's probably not something to worry about (i.e. fund excessively) in the US today. People with the ability to deploy truck bombs and suicide drivers are much more likely to target people instead. The kinds of conversations that would need take place to do the things you're talking about would only happen in an Austin Powers movie or Monty Python script.

        Terrorist Leader: "OK, Ali. Your mission is to drive this truck full of explosives into the Great Satan's (duh duh duh) electrical transformer! Muh-huh-huh."

        Ali: "Well...OK, and my sacrifice will kill off dozens of Satanic patients hooked up in the hospital in the next town over?"

        Leader: "Well, no, because the Great Satan's critical infrastructure is already protected with its own batteries and generators. But you will (duh duh duh) inconvenience thousands of people trying to watch TV and open their garage doors remotely. Muh-huh-huh."

        Ali: "Alright...so my sacrifice will inconvenience thousands of people for weeks, at least right? "

        Leader: "Well, maybe for a couple of days anyway, since the Great Satan will probably reroute power and bring in replacement equipment under an armed guard that we probably can't disrupt. But it will (duh duh duh) make the evening news. Muh-huh-huh."

        Ali: "Look, I don't think this group is for me. Can you recommend any other evil terrorist organizations that ARE a little more focused on my career goals?"

        • Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]
          http://time.com/3949986/1977-b... [time.com]

          In all, 1,616 stores were damaged in looting and rioting. A total of 1,037 fires were responded to, including 14 multiple-alarm fires. In the largest mass arrest in city history, 3,776 people were arrested. Many had to be stuffed into overcrowded cells, precinct basements and other makeshift holding pens. A congressional study estimated that the cost of damages amounted to a little over $300 million.

          The blackout ultimately shone a s

          • >> The blackout ultimately shone a spotlight on some of the city’s long-overlooked shortcomings, from glaring flaws in the power network to the much deeper-rooted issues of racial inequality and the suffering of the “American underclass,” as TIME dubbed it.

            So...we need to spend ludicrous amounts of money keeping the lights and over-employing the "homeland security" sector to avoid race riots. Got it.

        • by jabuzz ( 182671 )

          If you took all the terrorists who died in 9/11 put them into trucks with bombs and had them all drive in to major substations across several major cities in the north east of the USA and blow them up they would have killed if indirectly a order of magnitude more people and done an order of magnitude more economic harm than they actually did.

          You could easily put a major city like New York with out power for many months. There is simply not the "slack" in the supply of new transformers to replace them in wha

    • like the goofs who shot up a transformer in California about a year ago. folks in northeast New Mexico that have nothing else to do late at night but take potshots at the high-tension line insulators. these issues are easily but expensively solved by putting the lines underground. as we have seen in New York City, they don't get upgraded on schedule and you tend to have duct explosions and fires.

      as soon as they decide to take on the "smart grid" with its 4-character default admin passwords and no firewal

    • The problem here is that there's a low-grade civil war brewing in Crimea after Russia's invasion.

      There are no civil wars in Crimea right now, this disruption happened in Ukraine, outside of Crimea. Moreover this will harm more the faltering economy of Ukraine, that is paid for its supply of energy, than Crimea.

      • by gtall ( 79522 )

        It could have been done by Putin's little green men so that two-headed rat can claim he needs to protect the Crimea from terrorists.

        • "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity"
          • But it's a dirty war. False-flag attacks are entirely plausable. Consider what Putin's plan might be:

            1. He has occupied new territory. It's not too hard to hold - the former power has other concerns, most of the population speaks Russian and a lot of them are loyal to Russia. But not all. There's a resistance, and it's getting in his way. So how to deal with them? He can't just start violently oppressing them, people would notice and there would be political fallout.
            2. Ah, but what if the local people all h

            • 1. He has occupied new territory. It's not too hard to hold - the former power has other concerns, most of the population speaks Russian and a lot of them are loyal to Russia. But not all. There's a resistance, and it's getting in his way.

              There's no resistance to speak of in Crimea, moreover joining Russia clearly was a decision by a vast majority of Crimean people. The issue is that the referendum was not in accordance with the Ukrainean legislation, hence it's not recognized internationally, but there's no debate that it was a popular decision of the Crimeans.

    • The problem here is that there's a low-grade civil war brewing in Crimea after Russia's invasion. Wake me up when/if the US has a similar problem. Zzzzzz....

      I would not be too complacent about this. Clearly we are going to reasonably wonder "could it happen here?" and what would it mean. A valid concern, but the much greater issue as I see it is that it appears Putin has a new and serious challenge on his hands. How many more problems can Russia manage before something snaps? A breakdown in Russia could be a very big problem, especially if it is chaotic.

    • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
      Civil war in Crimea? That's a complete BS. Crimeans overwhelmingly prefer being a part of Russia, rather than Ukraine. Even Crimean Tartars are OK with that, and only a small minority tries to use terrorist tactics to impose its own preferences on everybody else.
      • Even Crimean Tartars are OK with that

        You mean, the ones that are permitted to talk about it, as opposed to being banned from Crimea and otherwise prosecuted for "extremism"?

        Of course, the very idea of holding up high the results of a referendum on secession in a country where merely distributing leaflets promoting "separatism" can land you in prison for several years is supremely ironic. At this point, it doesn't really matter what Crimeans think, because joining Russia is a one-way ticket - wanting to get out is a crime.

        • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
          Tartar language is now one of the official state languages of the Crimea. There are now MORE schools teaching in it than before the annexation, Tartars are not repressed in any way. Go visit Crimea yourself and check it. It's not hard, Tartars in Crimea own pretty much all decent restaurants - just go to one of them and ask around.

          As for the leaders of Crimean tartars - they are NOT nice people. They supported and encouraged the policy of "land grabs" (or "self-occupation" - "samozakhvat" in Russian and U
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Solar, wind, etc...

    Then you can have a highly distibuted generation/distribution system that will be more difficult to disrupt. Not impossible, but more difficult.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      We also need batteries with higher energy density per volume, and it would be nice if MPPT charge controller prices go down (where the most expensive part is likely the inductor coil for the buck/boost charging.)

      Batteries would change everything. If a stable, long-life battery that holds even an order of magnitude less than what gasoline stores in unit volume, this would fundamentally change the structure of the power grid.

    • Crimea is a small 10,000 square mile area (think 100x100 mile square). Unless you have a lot of local storage in every city (giant city sized UPS), this is not a good example of your point.

  • Think of the Children in the dark.....

  • Looks like Crimea needs to build more pylons

    /Horatio Caine puts on the sunglasses

  • So powerlines were struck with explosives, and somehow this may be related to cyberattacks? I think this powercut is preview of what the U.S. may one day face with an alien invasion. Or zombies.

    • Zombies don't target the power grid, but they may unintentionally cause outages by shambling into power equipment.

    • I guess people are brain dead. The lead in did mention cyber attacks which could cripple the power grid much like what happened in Crimea. Not hard to see the connection.
  • Sabotage Blacks Out Millions In the Ukrainian territory of Crimea

    • by Guspaz ( 556486 )

      No more than Taiwan is the territory of China. Russia may have been completely in the wrong by invading and conquering Crimea, but they did, and now it's theirs. Ukraine's claims to it are just that: claims, not possession.

  • ... we are just recovering from a week long power outage. If these attacks occurred here, we would have trouble differentiating between terrorism and normal power company operations.

    • Local distribution is not the same as the grid.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        Most of our outages were due to transmission line faults (a.k.a. 'the grid'). The local power company also pulled the plug on a bunch of circuits to reduce load when they lost their transmission lines. Because they didn't want to pay wheeling charges to use parallel public utilities' lines that were still in operation.

  • Bad choice (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @01:50PM (#50986513) Journal

    Cutting Crimea off from Ukraine is only going to strengthen Russia's hold on it (especially after Russia comes in to save the day with electricity). And if these people thought they were being repressed before, well, I'd hate to be a Tatar now that they're responsible for turning off everyone's electricity.

    • Maybe that's the idea - the 'activists' could really be Russian agents staging a fake attack.

      • Maybe that's the idea - the 'activists' could really be Russian agents staging a fake attack.

        Clearly it's the Tartars pretending to be Russian agents pretending to be Tartar 'activists' staging a fake attack.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rahvin112 ( 446269 )

      The population voted overwhelming to leave. You can claim the elections were fabricated but not the followup independent polls that showed better than 92% in favor of joining Russia.

      They should have the right of self determination. On the other hand Ukraine should be under no obligation to supply Crimea with water, power sewer or any other service for which the people of Ukraine pay for. If I was the Ukrainian leader I would have cut the utilities ages ago without a significant and expensive payment from Ru

      • Remember that Ukraine is in massive arrears to Russia for gas they never paid for. Meanwhile Crimea was/is paying Ukraine for electricity.

  • This is one of the most outright blatant trolling attempts by an author of a summary I've seen in at least a week.

  • and declared a state of emergency, which can last as long as one month.

    What happens after one month, then, if the situation hasn't changed? State of Emergency II: Electric Boogaloo?

  • Tatars gonna Tate! http://24.media.tumblr.com/tum... [tumblr.com]

  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @02:17PM (#50986771) Homepage

    Crimea river.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Monday November 23, 2015 @02:23PM (#50986835) Journal
    Distributed power generation could provide a vital back up for such grid failures. So to protect the profit potential of utilities sucking the blood of captive customers we need to sabotage roof top solar first. If grid gets sabotaged, then we can get the feds to cough up money for doing all the maintenance work that were cut back for decades.

    The big lesson learned from the 2008 financial collapse is: fail big. Fail small, you need to pay for the cost of failure. Fail big, feds will pay for the cost of failure. So make sure that all failures are catastrophic, so that there is huge public pressure to "do something". The utilities will have contingency plans ready to hold the hat out for federal handout.

    • Distributed power generation could provide a vital back up for such grid failures. So to protect the profit potential of utilities sucking the blood of captive customers we need to sabotage roof top solar first. If grid gets sabotaged, then we can get the feds to cough up money for doing all the maintenance work that were cut back for decades.

      The big lesson learned from the 2008 financial collapse is: fail big. Fail small, you need to pay for the cost of failure. Fail big, feds will pay for the cost of failure. So make sure that all failures are catastrophic, so that there is huge public pressure to "do something". The utilities will have contingency plans ready to hold the hat out for federal handout.

      Power generation is already distributed across the country and regions in a diverse portfolio mix of technologies most appropriate for the geography. Sure, they're large generators, but it's presently the most cost-effective, safe, and reliable method of generating *and* transmitting energy. The problem is that we have three, huge interconnected grids in the United States in order to move that generated energy at the moment it's generated in precise equilibrium with demand. Failures in transmission, as this

  • Just had to get the "ZOMG TWO nuclear power stations had to do a routine thing and we're all gonna die" angle in.

    • Came here for this. Glad someone else already caught it. People constantly trying to put their idiotic spin on everything is why i now hate everyone.
  • the problem we have now is that the current power system is centralized and interconnected. it's interconnected nature is it's vulnerability so the obvious answer is to segment "the grid". the best answer would be to have everyone use solar+battery and only have people can't generate enough power actually stay connected to the grid.

    • Economy of scale, though. One huge power station has a lower cost per watt of generating capacity than ten thousand tiny ones.

  • In a preview of what the U.S. may one day face with cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid

    LOL, no. Just... no.

  • What does destroying main electric pylons have to do with cyber attacks?
    • Lead in: "In a preview of what the U.S. may one day face with cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid,"

      And

      "Power Grid Cyber Attacks Keep the Pentagon Up" at Night http://www.scientificamerican.... [scientificamerican.com]

      Funny what reading does...you learn things...
    • It doesn't have anything, but such bogus scare stories will be used as a pretext to spy on your 'computers', purely to protect you from the cyber terrorists you understand ..
  • So, if I cut the telephone lines going into people's houses, is that the same as hacking the telephone network?

    If someone is in an auto accident and hits a phone pole, is that the same thing as hacking the car (and subsequently hacking the phone network?) And Horrors! Imagine if the auto accident was because the person was on the phone!

    The only way this is similar is if "hackers" knock down the power poles with bulldozers, the old fashioned way. There's no "cyber" anything involved with this story, except i

  • I wonder did some Russian get early access to the US TV show Madam Secretary and think "Do that to fictional Russia? Screw them, we will do it for REAL in Crimea!"

    Or (more paranoid-ly) did Madam Secretary's script writers get early intel on what Russia planned?

  • "In a preview of what the U.S. may one day face with cyberattacks on the U.S. power grid, Ivan Nechepurenko reports at the NY Times that power lines in southern Ukraine that supply Crimea have been knocked down by saboteurs, leaving millions without electricity."

    Except the power supply was knocked out by explosives blowing up the pylons [bbc.co.uk] and cyberattacks were not involved. And who in this day and age still connects their SCADA units directly to the Internet. Have a look at this from 2003 [time.com]. I do realize bur
  • Sabotage Blacks Out Millions In the Ukrainian territory of Crimea

Bringing computers into the home won't change either one, but may revitalize the corner saloon.

Working...