A cyberattack deprives thousands of Europeans of the Internet

Uprobable cyberattack targeting a network of satellites is hampering the Internet connection of several thousand Europeans. According to Orange, “nearly 9,000 subscribers” to a satellite Internet service from its subsidiary Nordnet, in France, are deprived of the Internet following a “cyberevent” which occurred on February 24 within Viasat, an operator of American satellite of which it is the client. Eutelsat, parent company of the Bigblu satellite Internet service, also confirmed to AFP on Friday evening that around a third of Bigblu’s 40,000 subscribers in Europe (Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Italy, Poland) were affected. by the breakdown on Viasat.

In the United States, Viasat said on Wednesday that a “cyber event” had caused “a partial network outage” for customers “in Ukraine and elsewhere” in Europe dependent on its KA-SAT satellite. Viasat gave no further details, confining itself to indicating that “the police and state partners” had been notified and “were assisting” with the investigations.

If the euphemism “cyberevent” left little doubt that it was a cyberattack, this was confirmed on Thursday by General Michel Friedling, who heads the French Space Command. “For a few days, shortly after the start of operations, we have had a satellite network that covers Europe, and in particular Ukraine, which was the victim of a cyber attack, with tens of thousands of terminals that were rendered inoperative immediately after this attack”, he indicated during a press briefing organized by the Ministry of Defence, specifying that he was talking about “a civilian network, Viasat”.

Targeted wind turbines

These disturbances also affect, in Germany and central Europe, 5,800 wind turbines with a total power of 11 gigawatts. “Due to a massive disruption of the satellite connection in Europe, remote monitoring and control of thousands of wind power converters is currently only possible to a limited extent,” said the manufacturer of these wind turbines, the German Enercon, this week in a press release. Enercon says the problems began on February 24, the first day of the invasion of Ukraine. “There is no danger for the wind turbine”, which continues to produce energy, but can no longer be reset remotely if necessary, explains the manufacturer.

READ ALSOUkraine-Russia war: “With cyberattacks, the distinctions between civilian and military targets are blurred”

A report by the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), quoted by the daily on Friday Handelsblatt, considers “conceivable” that a cyberattack is the cause of this breakdown. Military and cyber specialists fear that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict will give rise to an outbreak of cyberattacks, a “cyberArmageddon” with significant consequences for civilians in Ukraine and Russia, but also in the rest of the world, by spillover effect or “of splashing”, according to the term used recently by a French military official.

For now, the worst-case scenario seems to have been avoided, with the observed attacks appearing contained in their effects and geographic scale. Cybersecurity companies have observed attacks in Ukraine with a new data-destroying virus, the real effects of which are little known. In Russia, institutional sites have been made inaccessible from abroad, to protect them from denial of service (DoS) attacks which regularly render them inoperative.

READ ALSOUkraine: “The computer viruses used are real weapons of war”

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A cyberattack deprives thousands of Europeans of the Internet

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