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Hackers vs ageing infrastructure: who’s to blame for lights out in Turkey?

Hackers vs ageing infrastructure: who’s to blame for lights out in Turkey?

Hackers vs ageing infrastructure: who’s to blame for lights out in Turkey?

Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak has revealed to press that the Energy Ministry has been the victim of intense, sustained cyberattacks, originating from the United States, intended to bring down the Turkish power grid at a time when Istanbul is under 40cm of snow and hundreds of flights have been cancelled.

*”Yesterday [7 Jan], we faced an intense, US-originated cyber attack. These attacks have been carried out systematically on different parts of the Energy Ministry, but we have repelled them all”*

The Energy Ministry has claimed that cyberattacks and industrial sabotage are the reason behind the numerous power outages experienced in Istanbul and other parts of Turkey, despite earlier reports from the Ministry itself blaming the power cuts on unusually heavy snowfall.

The hack has been covered by Russia Today and reported by pro-regime news outlets within Turkey, but inconsistencies are fuelling speculation in the industrial security community that this could be another case of well-documented problems with the ageing Turkish power grid which the Ministry would rather not discuss publicly. If the Turks had successfully repelled all of the cyberattacks aimed at the power grid, then surely the outages cannot be blamed on malicious hackers?

Turks need not possess a wild imagination to run away with the story, however – in a dramatic escalation of a long-running diplomatic spat between the two countries, it is widely believed that Iran orchestrated an elaborate cyberattack that brought down power completely across Turkey for 12 hours in March 2015. Rather than targeting the power generation systems, attackers went for much less secure distribution networks and were able to turn power off and back on as they saw fit.

What’s your take on this? Is it likely that Turkey’s power grid was hacked by the United States? What are the diplomatic ramifications of action such as this?

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