2 min

Since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, cyberattacks on three European wind-energy businesses have prompted fears that Russian-friendly hackers are attempting to wreak havoc in a sector that stands to profit from attempts to reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas.

The hacked firms haven’t officially blamed the assaults on a specific criminal gang or nation, and Russia has continuously denied launching cyberattacks.

According to Christoph Zipf, a spokesman for WindEurope, a Brussels-based industry association, the timing of the assaults implies possible ties to supporters of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

German firms under attack

According to security experts, severe assaults on industrial machinery are rare and require much preparation.

All three firms attacked are situated in Germany. In April, the German Windtechnik AG, a company specializing in wind turbine servicing, was hacked. The business reported the hack knocked off remote control systems for around 2,000 wind turbines in Germany for nearly a day.

Nordex SE, a builder of turbines, stated on March 31 that it had detected a security breach that prompted it to shut down its information technology systems. Conti, a ransomware gang that has pledged sympathy for the Russian government, claimed responsibility for the attack earlier this month.

More attacks expected

Enercon GmbH, a turbine manufacturer, said it experienced “collateral damage” in a February hack on a satellite firm that occurred almost precisely when Russian forces invaded Ukraine. The assault disabled the remote control of 5,800 Enercon wind turbines, although they continued to run in automatic mode.

Matthias Brandt, head of Deutsche Windtechnik, said that higher IT security standards are needed to safeguard the company, which has roughly 2,000 workers because the rising renewable-energy industry will become a more significant target for hackers. Brandt said that the situation in Russia and Ukraine demonstrates that renewables will eventually replace oil and gas.