European Wind-Energy Sector Hit in Wave of Hacks – The Wall Street Journal

by | Apr 25, 2022 | Energy

A cyberattack against German wind-energy company Deutsche Windtechnik in April prompted it to shut down remote-control systems for roughly 2,000 wind turbines for about a day.

Photo:

Deutsche Windtechnik

By

Catherine Stupp

Updated April 25, 2022 5:33 am ET

Cyberattacks on three European wind-energy companies since the start of the war in Ukraine have raised alarm that hackers sympathetic to Russia are trying to cause mayhem in a sector set to benefit from efforts to lessen reliance on Russian oil and gas.

The companies attacked haven’t publicly attributed the hacks to a particular criminal group or country and Russia has consistently denied that it launches cyberattacks.

But the timing of the attacks suggests potential links to supporters of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, said Christoph Zipf, a spokesman for WindEurope, a Brussels-based industry group.

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Serious cyberattacks on industrial equipment aren’t common and take significant knowledge to prepare, according to security experts.

The three companies targeted in the attacks are all based in Germany. Deutsche Windtechnik AG, which specializes in the maintenance of wind turbines, was hacked in April. Remote-control systems for about 2,000 wind turbines in Germany were down for about a day after the attack, the company said.

Turbine maker

Nordex SE

said it discovered a security incident March 31 that forced it to shut its information-technology systems. Conti, a ransomware group that has declared support for the Russian government, said this month that it was responsible for the attack.

Enercon GmbH, also a turbine maker, said it was “collateral damage” in an attack on a satellite company in February that happened “at almost exactly the same time that Russian troops invaded Ukraine.” The attack knocked out remote control of 5,800 of Enercon’s wind turbines, though they continued to operate on auto mode.

Technicians doing maintenance on an Enercon wind turbine in Bernsdorf, Germany, in November.

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