In today’s current climate of fast-moving technology and cyber attacks, you may be wondering how dangerous the BlackEnergy malware truly is to cybersecurity. In today’s article, we answer the big questions about how BlackEnergy is likely to impact the industry.

The Importance of Cybersecurity

Cyber threats to energy facilities are insidious and the damage from an effective attack could be widespread and long lasting. Energy facilities left vulnerable to acts of cyber theft or sabotage could lead to potentially catastrophic consequences, including the corruption or alteration of a civil nuclear facility’s command and control systems, potential unauthorized access to equipment or material, damage to facilities that could leave surrounding communities without power for an unknown period of time, or worse. The importance of cybersecurity has become obvious, and in response, the industry has built up their defenses with cybersecurity experts and software. But the fight continues on as new technologies and new threats occur on a regular basis.

What is BlackEnergy Malware?

The BlackEnergy malware, thought to have originated from hackers sponsored by the Russian government, has been linked with the compromising of multiple industrial control systems in the U.S. over the past several years. In late 2014, the Department of Homeland Security warned that BlackEnergy had infiltrated industrial control systems for at least the past two years. It has been spotted targeting government institutions in the Ukraine, Georgia, and Poland. At its simplest description, BlackEnergy is a piece of malware with the capacity for sending spam or online bank fraud, but in fact it is capable of much worse. With its modular structure, the program is constantly evolving to attack cyber vulnerabilities of industry and governmental systems all over the world.

How Does it Impact You?

The announcement from Homeland Security late last year made it clear that the latest attacks from BlackEnergy were designed to target critical energy infrastructure. Potential attacks on water, electricity, and other infrastructure systems within the U.S. are a very real threat. So far there has been no sign that anyone has taken control of these critical infrastructure systems, but the simple act of the breach is more than enough to make the energy industry reevaluate cybersecurity needs and consider BlackEnergy to be a credible threat.

Energy companies across the country are recruiting cybersecurity experts and rethinking their cyber safety protocols. Regular monitoring of security threats is a part of day-to-day business now. And developing strategies to protect facilities from attack is part of the job. Some companies have chosen to completely disassociate their systems from the Internet, operating on a standalone system not connected to the Web. This reduces the threat of attack; however, there is no such thing as a perfectly secure system. The topic at hand is one of risk management. At present, only electric utilities and the nuclear industry have mandated cybersecurity standards. But it has become clear that the need is widespread and the need for cybersecurity will be industry wide.

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