Millions of homes were moments away from losing power after a major energy network was hit by a ransomware attack believed to have been the work of Chinese hackers.
CS Energy was hit by the attack on Saturday, November 27, in what the chief executive officer has described as a worrying, “growing trend”.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the attack was stopped at the last minute before it had the potential to shut down two major thermal coal plants.
If the attack had been successful, 3500 megawatts of power would have been taken out of the grid, enough for between 1.4 and three million homes.
CS Energy CEO Andrew Bills said the company worked quickly to isolate the corporate network from the Callide and Kogan Creek power stations, so that those generators could escape impact.
Federal and state agencies were contacted, as were cyber security experts.
Mr Bills said the focus now was on restoring the network’s security, and supporting employees, customers and business partners with any questions they have.
“CS Energy moved quickly to contain this incident by segregating the corporate network from other internal networks and enacting business continuity processes,” Mr Bills said.
“We immediately notified relevant state and federal agencies, and are working closely with them and other cyber security experts.
“Unfortunately, cyber events are a growing trend in Australia and overseas. This incident may have affected our corporate network, but we are fortunate to have a resilient and highly skilled workforce who remain focused on ensuring CS Energy continues to deliver electricity to Queenslanders.”
Earlier this year after a separate cyber attack, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews said cybersecurity was her “number one priority”.
“We are doing all that we can to protect Australians and Australian businesses, but understand that this is a two-way street,” she said in July.
“Businesses need to make sure that they have in place the appropriate measures to keep themselves and their data – which is critically important – cyber secure.
“We are very much aware that many nations – including China – have significantly increased their cyber capability. Australia is also increasing its legitimate and lawful cyber activity as well.”