Texas Power Company Hack

Event Year: 2009 Reliability: Confirmed
Country: United States
Industry Type: Power and Utilities

A former employee of a Texas power utility was arrested on May 28, 2009 for crippling the company’s energy forecast system.  The ex-employee, Don Chul Shin was fired from Energy Future Holdings on March 3, 2009 for performance reasons and was escorted off of the property.  However, the company failed to immediately shut off his VPN access.  Later that day, Shin’s account was used to log onto the corporate network, e-mailing out proprietary data to a personal Yahoo account linked to Shin and modifying and deleting files.  Company logs indicated that the VPN connection originated from Shin’s IP address.  While logged onto the corporate VPN, an email was sent asking the engineering group operating the Comanche Peak nuclear reactor asking what would happen if the load were to be “increased to 99.7 percent of capacity.”  Shin was responsible for programming the models which controlled the management of EFH power generation facilities, including the Comanche Peak reactor. The company reported the sabotage on March 6, 2009. Energy Future Holdings is the corporate parent of three large Texas electric companies, including Luminent, which operates the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant.


The impact was purely financial.  The company reported that the incident cost over $26,000.