There are numerous ways to fight a war. Cyber-attacks have been a growing concern during recent conflicts. Russian hackers are among the best in the world, and they just carried out a cyber attack on Ukraine’s most prominent private energy conglomerate.

The victim of the attack was the DTEK Group, which owns coal and thermal power plants across all of Ukraine. Corporate representatives state that the hacker’s goal was to “destabilize the technological processes of its distribution and generation firms, spread propaganda about the company’s operations, and to leave Ukrainian consumers without electricity.” That’s the bottom line; they wanted to leave the Ukrainian people in the dark. Cyber warfare is also a significant psychological component, knowing that your enemy can significantly affect major parts of your daily life.

A DTEK-owned and operated power generation facility in Ukraine. Image Credit: DTEK

In an interview with CNN, DTEK spokesperson Antonina Antosha informed them, “The cyber attacks didn’t have any negative effect on DTEK’s operations so far.” I must admit the “so far” part of that comment gave me a little cause for concern. However, Antosha said, “All systems operate in a regular mode.” Cool, so far, so good.

The hacking attempt was revealed days after Rinat Akhmetov, the wealthiest man in Ukraine (and the owner of DTEK), sued Russia in the European Court of Human Rights for allegedly costing him billions of dollars in property rights damages. Apparently, he believes that “if you broke it, you bought it.” So the cyber activity could very well be a form of retaliation for the lawsuit.

A group of Russian hackers calling themselves, XakNet, is claiming responsibility online for the attack. They claim to have hacked the energy giant’s networks and have reportedly shown screenshots online with the proof. The group in its current form surfaced in March of this year, quickly prompting an alert from the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency after they claimed to be targeting Ukrainian officials supporting Russia’s war effort.