CIA: Cyberattack caused multi-city blackout

CIA: Cyberattack caused multi-city blackout

Summary: The CIA has warned of successful attacks against various countries' critical national infrastructures

TOPICS: Security

The CIA has said that a cyberattack caused a power blackout in multiple cities in a country outside the US. Security training body the Sans Institute reported the CIA's disclosure on Friday.

CIA senior analyst Tom Donahue told a Sans Institute conference in New Orleans on Wednesday that the CIA had evidence of successful cyberattacks against various countries' critical national infrastructures.

"We have information that cyberattacks have been used to disrupt power equipment in several regions outside the US," said Donahue. "In at least one case, the disruption caused a power outage affecting multiple cities."

Donahue added that the CIA does not know who executed the attacks or why, but that all of the attacks involved "intrusions through the internet".

The CIA analyst added that his organisation had evidence of blackmail demands following demonstrations of successful intrusions.

"We have information, from multiple regions outside the US, of cyber-intrusions into utilities, followed by extortion demands," said Donahue. "We suspect, but cannot confirm, that some of these attackers had the benefit of inside knowledge."

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The CIA does not normally make this information public. According to Donahue, the CIA actively and thoroughly considered the benefits and risks of making this information public, and came down on the side of disclosure, the Sans Institute reported.

Alan Paller, director of research at the Sans Institute, warned over three years ago about demonstrations of denial of service to computer systems, followed by demands for cash.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • oops

    I've been reading some of the comments that date back to 2005 regarding the cybercrime debate and whether it is a myth, a severely critical issue that we should be concerned about or whether cybersecurity is just so tght we need not fear anyway.
    Now this, is quite plainly a form of cyberterrorism, demands for cash and so forth., besides if the CIA are able, and we must assume they are to accurately pinpoint a glitch in a system from an attack (unknown source) then of course we should be concerned, Should an organisation or indvidual consider it necessary to black out a city for cash however I do not feel that they represent a form of terrorism that should concern us. Most of all, a form that would not need or desire cash-for-terror but whose motivation stems from ther sources would consider destructon on a vast scale well within their remit, then we should be concerned, a city black out; no lights and so forth is bad but if such a group (or individual) is capable of bypassing a states cyberstructure to such an extent, as a display of power, where do the implications lead? cyberstructure of electricity grids is much like any other network of cybergrid......................