Feeds

EU halts carbon trading after 'concerted' hack attacks

€30m up in smoke

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

The European Commission has temporarily halted trading of carbon emissions credits following revelations that some two-million allowances worth about €30m were stolen from insecure accounts in recent days.

At least three of the “cyber attacks” have occurred since the beginning of the year, and other registries are known to be vulnerable, EC officials said in a FAQ posted on Friday. The Associated Press said national systems in five countries – including Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, and Poland – “each fell victim to 'concerted' online thievery over five days this week.”

Trading is scheduled to resume on Wednesday, but only if vulnerable countries secure their registries. Among the measures required, Bloomberg News reported, is the adoption of multi-factor authentication for account access rather than the simple use of a user name and password as is the case at many sites now.

The EC sets a limit on the total amount of carbon that can be spewed into the environment, and then allows polluters to buy and sell emission credits. Factories that emit less can sell allowances to those that emit more. The cap and trade system is the source of intense criticism from both environmentalists and pro-business groups, so it's not clear who is behind the attacks. While each ton of credit is worth about €2m apiece, each certificate comes with its own serial number, so it's not clear if a thief would be able to profit by reselling the stolen credits.

The EC didn't say how the registries were breached. Phishing emails that attempt to swindle registry-account passwords date back to at least July and resulted in the theft of 250,000 carbon permits worth over €3m. EU climate exchange ECX.eu has also come under defacement attacks by what's believed to be green-hat hackers opposed to the system.

The Czech registry compromised this week was planning to upgrade its security on Wednesday, but had to postpone the move after discovering the missing credits. About one million permits belonging to multiple companies were stolen from that exchange, Bloomberg said. Some 475,000 of them belonged to Blackstone Global Ventures and were transferred to accounts in Poland, Estonia, and Lichtenstein.

In November, an exchange in Romania was also compromised, the EC said. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.