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Brazilian Govt: Soot, not hackers, caused '07 blackouts

The Brazilian government is refuting a report aired on Sunday by the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes, which stated that power blackouts in the South American nation in 2005 and 2007 were caused by hackers. Meanwhile, a large swath of Central Brazil is still reeling from another massive blackout that occurred in the region Tuesday evening.

Citing six unnamed sources in the intelligence, military and cybersecurity communities, 60 Minutes claimed that a two-day outage that affected 3 million people in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo was caused by hackers hitting a utility company's control systems. Another, smaller outage in January 2005 also was caused by hackers, the report said.

According to the Wired.com Threat Level blog, the utility company involved, Furnas Centrais El├ętricas, said it "has no knowledge of hackers acting in Furnas' power transmission system."

"Brazilian government officials disputed the report over the weekend, and Raphael Mandarino Jr., director of the Homeland Security Information and Communication Directorate, told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo that he's investigated the claims and found no evidence of hacker attacks, adding that Brazil's electric control systems are not directly connected to the internet.

The earliest explanation for the blackout came from Furnas two days after the Sept. 26, 2007, incident began. The company announced that the outage was caused by deposits of dust and soot from burning fields in the Campos region of Espirito Santo. "The concentration of these residues would have been exacerbated by the lack of rain in the region for eight months," the company said.

In a development that is sure to encourage even more speculation on the matter, Brazil suffered another massive blackout on Tuesday evening that plunged much of central Brazil into darkness for several hours. The incident is being blamed on a failure at a major hydroelectric dam in the region. CNN reports that neighboring Paraguay and Uruguay also reported related blackouts.

brazilout.JPG

"Rio's main streets and avenues were in a total blackout. Video footage showed long lines of cars at a near standstill on the roads, and the subway system in Rio came to a stop," CNN said.

Internet infrastructure monitoring company Renesys Corp. notes that Tuesday's blackout also caused serious instability or unreachability in large portions of Brazil's telecommunications infrastructure.

By Brian Krebs  |  November 11, 2009; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker  | Tags: brazil blackout  
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Comments

Actually, it was reported back in May 2008 that possibly a major *US* blackout occurred in Florida due to hackers from China:

http://www.nationaljournal.com/njmagazine/cs_20080531_6948.php

What is suspicious to me about the 60 Minutes segment on Sunday was the fact that they omitted mentioning the Florida incident. That can't be by mistake...so perhaps the US government is covering it up - with complicity of CBS News? (Probably not the first time or the last time...)

Posted by: boboran | November 12, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Well my analises on this report form CBS is: minimal chances for hackers on eletrical brazilian system. What is going on down here is: 1- we are in the limit of energy consumption and production.2-Although this is a rainny year in brazil we had blackout in 18 from 25 states 3-Our government here did bad by reviewing an agreement on eletric energy from ITAIPU with the government of paraguai that only should be reviwed by 2020.Conclusion we have two options turn on the polluting diesel eletrical energy generators we put off these here for ecological problems,so the eletrical energy for residences will go up...and keep urgent investiments on eletrical energy production.Finally pray for keeping rainning a lot of next years or we will go often for blackouts.Just remember we got so terrible drought by the 2005 black our rivers levels were so low. THANKS

Posted by: jsedlisboa | November 12, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

@jsedlisboa: Good luck, my friend ... I know that in many areas of the world, stability of electricity is something that you cannot count on.

@boboran: Sometimes a blackout is just a blackout ... often times, 60 Minutes has no clue as to what they are babbling about -- especially when it comes to government "conspiracies" and "cover-ups" ...

Ever hear of "RatherGate"? READALLABOUTIT: http://mediamythbusters.com/index.php?title=Rathergate

Posted by: db16 | November 14, 2009 8:59 AM | Report abuse

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