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Hackers Can Cut the Lights With Rogue Code, Researchers Show

Jan. 11, 2022, 5:44 PM

As Ang Cui added more juice to the power grid, overhead electric lines began to glow bright orange. Then, within seconds, the power lines evaporated in a flash of smoke, leaving an entire section of Manhattan in the dark.

No actual buildings or people lost power because, luckily, this was just a simulation — a tabletop diorama of Manhattan complete with tiny copper power lines and the Statue of Liberty relocated to a pared-down Central Park. Cui’s colleagues at Red Balloon Security Inc. had unleashed a few lines of malicious code that knocked out a computer designed to protect electrical lines.

A Schneider Electric Easergy P5 protection relay displays a simulated ransomware attack by Red Balloon Security.
Photographer: Angus Mordant/Bloomberg