On August 8th, the Air-Traffic control system “Galaxy” in the international airport “Pulkovo” (Saint Petersburg, Russia) is malfunctioned. The system controls the movement of aircraft in the area of approach to the airport.
An interesting fact is that the failure occurred not only on the server but also on all the computers in the control room. Suddenly, they were frozen.
At the time of the incident, four Airplane were in the air without control for about ten minutes.
Few days back (August 3rd) before this incident the Airport’s Quality Control Department received threatening e-mail. The Pulkovo airport received these threatening emails at least three times starting from July 30.
The Cyber Criminals demanded 200 Bitcoins (around 89 million rubles/90 million rupees) otherwise they will disrupt the navigation control system. Employees assume that these threats and system failure have a direct connection.
Law enforcement agencies found that the letters were sent from Switzerland, and the SIM cards to which the addresses are linked are registered on British citizens. Most likely, hackers used fake IP-addresses to mislead the police. The police said that no one can hack the air navigation system of the airport from external sources.
Could it be a just coincidence that the control system malfunctioned after these threatening letters? or the hackers really behind the attack? It is still unknown. The experts are trying to find the root cause of the failure. Thankfully, there was no damage.
The cyber criminals can be punished with three years imprisonments or can be fined up to 300 thousand rubles.
This is not the first time an Airport receiving threatening letters from cyber criminals. However, it appears that this is first time a malfunctioning-incident reported after such kind of letters. It should be noted that Airport “Domodedovo” (Moscow International airport) also received a threatening letter with a demand of several hundred in Bitcoins. However, there was no incident reported in this case.