CrashOverrride is an industrial control system cyberattack launched in December 2016 that created a massive blackout in Kiev, Ukraine. Also known as Industroyer by security firm ESET, CrashOverride is a form of malware developed with capabilities to control electricity substation switches and circuit breakers on a wide scale.
The Industroyer / CrashOverrride malware doesn’t need to target any zero-day exploits or unpatched security vulnerabilities to do its damage; instead it communicates directly with industrial hardware through communication protocols that were designed many years in the past without significant security in mind.
Following in the Footsteps of Stuxnet and BlackEnergy
CrashOverride also isn’t the first form of malware to target electricity substations, as it followed an attack known as BlackEnergy that created a blackout in the Ukraine in 2015.
The CrashOverrride / Industroyer malware also shares similarities with the Stuxnet malware that targeted an Iranian power plant in 2010 and which also used its ability to communicate directly with industrial hardware to do its damage.
These forms of malware have brought to light just how vulnerable industrial environments — and most environments in our increasingly Internet of Things (IoT) world — can be to cyberattacks.
Defending against them requires a multilayer approach that can be difficult to apply when dealing with hardware and software systems that were developed many years ago without sophisticated — or even basic in many cases — security measures taken into consideration.