Paris: Thousands of internet users across Europe have been facing a massive internet outage, after what was likely a cyberattack at the beginning of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, news agency reported. As per telecommunications operator Orange, nearly 9,000 subscribers of a satellite internet service provided by its subsidiary Nordnet in France are without internet following a “cyber event” on February 24 at Viasat, a US satellite operator of which it is a client.
Around one-third of bigblu’s 40,000 subscribers in Europe, in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Italy, and Poland, were affected by the outage on Viasat, Eutelsat, the parent company of the bigblu satellite internet service, confirmed to AFP on Friday.
Viasat on Wednesday said in the US that a “cyber event” had caused a “partial network outage” for customers “in Ukraine and elsewhere” in Europe who rely on its KA-SAT satellite. The company did not give any further details, saying only “police and state partners” had been notified and were assisting with investigations.
The internet outage came amid Ukraine’s claim of hostile hijackings of local government websites in Ukraine by Russia to spread false propaganda. Military and cyber specialists believe that there had been a cyberattack, and they fear that the Russian-Ukrainian conflict could lead to an outbreak of cyberattacks, a “cyber Armageddon” with major consequences for civilians in Ukraine and Russia, but also globally, through a spillover effect, reported AFP.
“For several days, shortly after the start of operations, we have had a satellite network that covers Europe and Ukraine in particular, which was the victim of a cyberattack, with tens of thousands of terminals that were rendered inoperative immediately after the attack,” General Michel Friedling, head of France’s Space Command, said adding that he was talking about a civilian network — Viasat, according to the AFP report.
The outages also reportedly knocked offline some 5,800 wind turbines in Germany and Central Europe with a combined output of 11 gigawatts.
“Due to a massive disruption of the satellite connection in Europe, remote monitoring and control of thousands of wind power converters are currently only possible to a limited extent,” said the manufacturer, Germany’s Enercon which said the problems started on February 24, the first day of the invasion of Ukraine.
“There is no danger to the wind turbines” which continue to produce energy but can no longer be reset remotely if needed, the manufacturer said.
Quoting Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security’s report, German daily Handelsblatt also reported that it was “conceivable that the outages were the consequence of a “cyberattack”.
However, the experts believe the worst-case scenario has so far been avoided, as the attacks observed appear to be contained in their impact and geographical scope.