SAN FRANCISCO — A new malware variant capable of knocking out networks that run power grids around the globe has been discovered by a computer security company studying an attack on the Ukrainian power grid.
The malicious code is capable of directly controlling electricity substation switches and circuit breakers and could potentially be used to turn off power distribution or to physically damage equipment used in the electricity distribution grid, researchers at ESET wrote in a paper posted Monday.
U.S. power providers are “properly alarmed,” especially at the sophistication of the program, said Sue Kelly, president and CEO of the American Public Power Association.
“We are going up a level in the video game here,” she said. The organization and the power companies it serves are working with national and international organizations and the U.S. government to analyze the malware and the threat it might pose.