U.K. Electricity Market suffers a quite serious CYBER-attack

The company that facilitates payments on the U.K. electricity market, tracking the trade between those who produce electricity and those who supply it and resolving the differences, has fallen victim to a cyber-attack. Elexon is at the center of the balancing and settlement system, working with Great Britain’s National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) to keep the lights on. The lights didn’t go off across the U.K. as a result of this cyber-attack, but internal IT systems and laptops at Elexon went dark.

A $2 billion energy market business

Overseeing the payments in the energy market that exists between U.K. power station operators and the companies that provide the electricity supply to consumers and businesses alike, Elexon plays a vital role in ensuring the lights really do stay on across the country. It does this by not only monitoring electricity generation and matching it to National Grid demand but ensuring that correct payments are made to those generating the juice.

According to The Telegraph, which was first to break the news of this cyber-attack, that amounts to some $2.07 billion (£1.7 billion) of transactions every year. The combination of high-value transactions with being a core part of the energy supply market makes companies such as Elexon a prime target for cybercriminals and nation-state hackers alike.

Indeed, there has been a lot of global nervousness around energy market security recently, with President Trump declaring foreign cybersecurity threats to the U.S. electricity system a national emergency in an executive order signed May 1.

How details of the Elexon cyber-attack emerged

As for the nature of the cyber-attack against Elexon itself, we will have to wait for the ongoing investigations to be completed before getting a complete picture. However, pieces of that picture are already starting to emerge.

The public disclosure of the attack was tweeted by Elexon yesterday and stated that “we are currently unable to send or receive any emails,” while confirming that “internal IT systems have been impacted by a cyber-attack.”

Elexon also released a midday bulletin through its market portal yesterday which gave more information. Namely that “the attack is to our internal IT systems and ELEXON’s laptops only.” This advised that the Balancing and Settlement Code (BSC) and Electricity Market Reform (EMR) payment systems were working normally. Later in the afternoon, Elexon updated that bulletin to confirm it had “identified the root cause” of the attack.

Meanwhile, the National Grid Electricity System Operator (ESO) tweeted that it was “investigating any potential impact on our own IT networks,” but stated that “electricity supply is not affected,” thanks to robust cybersecurity. CONTINUE READING “Was this a ransomware attack?”