Vadim Ghirda / AP

Security firm FireEye disclosed some details Thursday of a recent attack on a critical infrastructure provider by what appears to be either a state actor or state-sponsored actors.

While it isn't sharing most of the details, FireEye is drawing attention to one key element unique to this attack. In this case, the malware in question was successful at defeating two systems, but in doing so appeared to inadvertently trip up another system, causing at least some interruption of service.

Why it matters: In many cases, nations may be trying to infiltrate key infrastructure to have a way in should they wish to attack, but aren't necessarily looking to do damage now. This incident shows in some cases they may be doing damage nonetheless.

"This proves getting into these systems can cause very real disruptions, even accidentally," said FireEye Director of Intelligence analysis John Hultquist. "This activity could be construed as sabotage by an adversary or even a military act of war. It could be completely unintentional."

The attack was against Triconex Safety Instrumented Systems, made by Schneider Electric, which also confirmed the issue, according to Reuters, which said the equipment is widely used in the energy industry, including at nuclear and oil and gas facilities.

What's not being shared: FireEye isn't saying what type of infrastructure was attacked, or even in which country it was located. (Reuters reported that two other security firms say the target firm was in the Middle East, with one saying Saudi Arabia.)

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 19,412,292 — Total deaths: 722,066 — Total recoveries — 11,773,112Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 4,945,795 — Total deaths: 161,456 — Total recoveries: 1,623,870 — Total tests: 60,415,558Map.
  3. Politics: Trump says he's prepared to sign executive orders on coronavirus aid.
  4. Public health: Fauci says chances are "not great" that COVID-19 vaccine will be 98% effective
  5. Science: Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline.
  6. World: Africa records over 1 million coronavirus cases — Gates Foundation puts $150 million behind coronavirus vaccine production.
1 hour ago - Health

Indoor air is the next coronavirus frontline

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A growing body of research has made it clear that airborne transmission of the coronavirus is possible.

Why it matters: That fact means indoor spaces can become hot spots. Those spaces also happen to be where most business and schooling takes place, so any hope for a return to normality will require better ways of filtering indoor air.

The silver linings of online school

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Online learning can be frustrating for students, teachers and parents, but some methods are working.

The big picture: Just as companies are using this era of telework to try new things, some principals, teachers and education startups are treating remote learning as a period of experimentation, too.