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Pro-Russia hackers say they were behind Hydro-Quebec cyberattack

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A pro-Russia hacker group has claimed responsibility for a cyber-attack on the Hydro-Quebec website Thursday morning.

Parts of the Quebec power utility's site were still down as of around 11:00 a.m. Hydro-Quebec says no personal data was compromised.

In an online post, the group NoName057 (16) announced it was behind the hack but did not specify why it reportedly targeted Hydro-Quebec.

"Continuing our visits to Canada," the hacker group wrote, translated from Russian. "The website of Hydro-Québec, the company responsible for generating and transporting electricity in Quebec, was put down."

Hydro-Quebec confirmed to CTV News that the website was targeted by a "cyber attack" overnight Wednesday but could not say whether NoName057 (16) was behind it.

"Our security quickly detected the attack therefore our critical systems were not impacted," said spokesperson Lynn St-Laurent.

St-Laurent said there were no "infiltrations" or "exfiltrations" of sensitive data or customer information.

Pro-Russia hacker group NoName057 (16) claims to have taken down the Hydro-Quebec website on April 13, 2023.

'DENIAL OF SERVICE' 

Hydro-Quebec's website was hit by a "denial of service" attack, which occurs when a system becomes overloaded with superfluous requests.

According to tech analyst Carmi Levy, these types of attacks can be effective even though they're not particularly complex.

"It's one of the most unsophisticated attacks that exists in the entire cyber security regime. And so in that sense, it's good news -- but it is highly disruptive," he explained.

"It's almost like a pitchfork-wielding mob shows up at your front door, and they start banging on the door for hours on end. They don't break in, they don't steal anything, they don't damage anything, but you can't come and go. You can't do anything, and your life is essentially on hold."

Some pages on Hydro's website were still accessible Thursday morning, such as the outages map. Other sections, like the Customer Space page, wouldn't load. The Hydro-Quebec app was also affected.

Hydro spokesperson Lynn St-Laurent said there are 300 employees on Hydro's cybersecurity team who monitor the site "24/7."

A STRING OF ATTACKS

Hydro-Quebec is among a handful of Canadian organizations targeted by cyberattacks in recent days.

Earlier this week, there were attacks on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's website, the Laurentian Bank of Canada website, and the websites for various Canadian ports, including the Port of Montreal and Port de Québec.

Pro-Russia groups claimed responsibility for these attacks as well, according to The Canadian Press.

Because we have stepped forward to help Ukraine [...] Russia has made it very clear that Canada is on its list of countries that it will be targeted in the digital domain," said Levy.

The news at Hydro-Quebec follows a tumultuous week for the hydroelectricity company; last Wednesday, an ice storm knocked power out for 1.1 million Quebec customers. Power was gradually restored over the following week, with repairs finished Thursday morning.

With files from The Canadian Press. 

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