Vologda, Russia
Vologda, Russia. Image: Image: Dmitriy Alekseenkoff / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Russian citizen faces trial for alleged hacking of local power grid

A 49-year-old Russian national will stand trial on charges of carrying out a cyberattack on a local power plant that resulted in a blackout in dozens of settlements, according to the Russian state news agency TASS.

The unnamed resident of Vologda, a city in the northwest of Russia, “intentionally” gained illegal access to the technological control systems of local power grids last February and cut off the power supply to 38 settlements in the region, TASS reported, citing a spokesperson from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

It is not clear how long the alleged blackouts lasted and how many households were affected. There are no additional reports about the incident aside from the statement provided by the Russian FSB to TASS.

If proven guilty, the hacker could potentially face up to eight years in prison. He would be charged with using his “official position” to unlawfully access computer information stored on critical information infrastructure, suggesting that he could be an employee of the hacked power plant.

Russian law enforcement did not mention whether the alleged attack was financially or politically motivated. The latter scenario seems likely, given that there have been several incidents where tech-savvy Russian residents conducted cyberattacks on critical infrastructure as a form of protest against the current regime or Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Earlier in October, an 18-year-old Russian tech student was detained by the FSB for allegedly helping Ukrainian hackers carry out cyberattacks against Russia. Now he could face treason charges and up to 20 years in prison.

In another case in October, a Russian citizen from the Siberian town of Belovo was arrested for supposedly joining Ukrainian cyber forces to execute cyberattacks on critical Russian infrastructure

Last year, three residents of the Russian city Rostov-on-Don were sentenced to prison or fined for carrying out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Russian sites.

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Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk

is a reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.