Can a single malware take down an entire city’s power grid?

A malware which has the ability to take down a city’s electrical and power grid has been detected.

Named ‘Industroyer’, the malware was identified after an attack on Kiev in 2016. An analysis by ESET of the malware has found that it is capable of controlling electricity substation switches and circuit breakers directly. This is done using industrial communication protocols used around the world in power supply infrastructure, transportation control systems and other critical infrastructure systems (such as water and gas).

In particular, Industroyer uses protocols in a common fashion, and its core component is a backdoor that attackers use to install and control the components. The malware connects to a remote server to receive commands and to report to the attackers.

It also uses Tor software to communicate privately with command and control servers, while an additional backdoor is designed to regain access to the targeted network in case the main backdoor is detected and/or disabled.

power-station
Industroyer malware detected, linked to Kiev attack

Anton Cherepanov, senior malware researcher at ESET, said: “While being universal, some of the components in analyzed samples were designed to target particular hardware. For example, the wiper component and one of the payload components are tailored for use against systems incorporating certain industrial power control products by ABB, and the DoS component works specifically against Siemens SIPROTECT devices used in electrical substations and other related fields of application”.

ESET acknowledged that while the investigation into the Ukrainian power outage is still ongoing, it was not able to confirm that the Industroyer malware was the direct cause.

Source: Info Security

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Volcanic energy could be new source of sustainable power

Iceland is experimenting with a well drilled almost three miles down into the Earth that captures volcanic heat for a new supply of more sustainable energy.

Although not without pollutants, the new approach to accessing and using Iceland‘s geothermal energy would require only three to five wells to generate the same amount of power as that of 30 to 35 conventional high temperature wells. Drilling so deeply into the Earth provides access to supercritical fluid that generates turbine-powering steam. Due to the pressure and high temperatures exerted by the depth, such material is neither liquid nor solid.

If the new well, nicknamed Thor, proves itself over two years of gathering energy from magma, the country may have another alternative to non-fossil-fuel energy. Currently, all of Iceland’s electricity is generated from non-fossil-fuel sources, with three-fourths coming from hydroelectric dams. Concerns about the volcanic energy that have been raised by environmentalists include rapid rises in carbon dioxide emissions. At the moment, the country’s energy-intensive industries and increasing volume of tourists are prime culprits. Engineers point out that geothermal emissions are far lower than those of traditional oil and natural gas wells.

Iceland’s geothermal well could generate five to 10 times more power than a conventional well.

The battle against fossil fuel use isn’t yet won, and to that end, numerous projects are finding ways to make sustainable energy more accessible, whether through miniaturization or personalization. A mini wind turbine uses wind, water or manual power to charge any device using a USB port. And a portable, smart solar panel system in the shape of a flower makes a plug-and-play system a good-looking reality.

Source: springwise.com

How else can material and engineering developments expand the use of alternative energies?

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High-end music festival turns into disaster area and mass chaos

This weekend was the inaugural Fyre Festival. It was supposed to be the Coachella of the Bahamas. It was supposed to be a VIP experience.

Instead it was Millennial Armageddon.

Tickets cost anywhere from $1,000 to $12,000 and promised a flight from Miami, activities like kayaking and yoga, and a stay in a geodesic dome. What actually happened was anything but, and now the Internet buzz with horror stories.

Festival-goers discovered the plush villas they were promised were more like “disaster relief tents”.

No food, no water, no luxury tents

First, those “luxury tents” that were promised turned out to be…not that at all. As Thomas Pierce, owner of entertainment marketing company PMA told E! News about his friends who are still stuck in what they described as a first-world apocalypse, “When they landed, they saw emergency tents with wet mattresses. The so-called private plane was a retired commercial airplane.”

According to Taylor Wiederhorn, an unlucky festival goer, the weekend’s organizers first tried to distract attendees from the lack of luxury tents by providing free alcohol. “Six hours later, they took us to the festival grounds,” he told E! News. “The tents had no floors, it was just dirt. No beds and port-a-potties. Everyone’s luggage was being held in these 20-foot shipping containers. I had to physically fight my way to the cargo containers to get my luggage, which they had been holding. I then tried getting a hotel room but every hotel was booked out because there is a separate festival going on for locals. So there isn’t anywhere else to stay.”

The food, was terrible. The food they could get their hands on, that is. A paparazzi photographer, who was in possession of a VIP pass for the weekend, said that food was “slow and scarce.” All they were offered initially was bread and cheese, and then all that was left was Doritos. There was talk of the occasional mystical sightings of chicken and pasta, “but you had to fight for it.”

Once darkness fell on the first night, it got even worse. Reports began flooding in that there was no electricity, no lighting, and that the camp descended into total anarchy. As you can see in the below video, attendees were practically screaming for food, swarming trucks in the darkness. Those who hadn’t escaped immediately upon seeing the disaster tents began to run for the hills—or, rather, the airport.

“Once I got my bags, I paid a local to drive me to the airport where 100 people were sleeping on the floor,” Wiederhorn told E! “I was fortunate enough to realize early on I needed to get my stuff and get out of there. There was just no organization. Once we saw the tents—which were FEMA tents—and the port-a-potties, I knew it was time to get out of there.”

But getting out would prove to be far more difficult. The lucky members of the first wave of evacuations waited about 12 hours for a flight back to the mainland, but plenty others are live-Tweeting from a waiting hell at the airport. There are reports of passengers being kept on the tarmac for hours, or being stuffed into tiny rooms with access to the open bars and upscale snacks they expected to be indulging in during the weekend.

And Pierce tells E! News that there are “thousands” of people still on the festival grounds. “The employees are working under stressful conditions with no sleep,” he said. “It’s hot and humid and rainy and I’m worried for my friend who’s still there working.”

Wiederhorn echoed that sentiment: “I still have friends stranded. They’re trying to figure out how to get to the airport and get home. I can’t even tell you how many people are still stuck there. It was the biggest disaster I’ve ever seen.”

Source: E! News

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