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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Ukraine cyber-attack: Russia to blame for hack, says Kyiv


The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of being behind Friday’s cyber-attack on dozens of official websites.

In the largest such attack on Ukraine in four years, approximately 70 government websites were temporarily taken offline.

Before the sites were taken down, a message appeared warning Ukrainians to “be prepared for the worst.” Most of the sites’ access was restored within hours.

The United States and NATO have both condemned the attack and offered Ukraine their support. Russia has not responded to the hack.

Experts from Ukraine’s information ministry published a timeline of how news of the attack spread, noting that Russian media reported it first, followed by Ukrainian outlets.

They alleged that the attacks were in response to what they called Russia’s failure in its recent talks with Nato over Ukraine.

Ukraine has come under intense pressure from its neighbour, with 100,000 Russian troops stationed near its borders.

Ukraine’s SBU security service claims to have “neutralised” 1,200 cyber-attacks or incidents in just nine months last year.

Nato announced that it would soon sign an agreement with Ukraine on enhanced cyber cooperation, which would grant it access to the alliance’s malware information sharing platform.


The White House has stated that it will provide Ukraine with whatever assistance it requires to recover from the attack.


At the start of the attack on Friday, a message was posted on the hacked websites in three languages: Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish.


“Ukrainian! Your entire personal data set has been uploaded to the public internet “the message stated. “This is for your past, present, and future,” it went on.


According to a statement issued by Poland’s government, the message in Polish contained serious errors and did not appear to have been written by a native speaker. The hack was also blamed on Russia.


According to initial assessments, no personal data had been leaked, and no content had been changed, according to the SBU in Kyiv.


The Diia website, a key system containing government services that stores personal vaccination data and certificates, was one of the sites targeted.


Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, said the EU was mobilising all of its resources to assist Ukraine in dealing with “this type of cyber-attack.”






While the rest of the world has been watching Russia’s troop buildup with bated breath, the cyber-security community has been waiting for some sort of cyber incursion.


Hybrid or asymmetric warfare is a well-established feature of modern conflict, and Russia has demonstrated its ability to attack both the physical and cyber realms.


During Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, Russian attacks knocked government websites offline. When Russia seized and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, it was accused of launching a slew of cyber-attacks to disrupt communications and spread confusion while troops overran the region.


This latest attack on Ukrainian websites is consistent with previous incidents, but it is also unusual.


Threats to delete personal data are most likely hollow, as no data would have been compromised by attacks on publicly accessible websites.


Instead of a Kremlin-ordered cyber offensive, this appears to be a coordinated attack by patriotic Russian hackers, as was the case in the Georgia attacks. The Kremlin may not have ordered it, but it will not turn down any efforts to further shake Ukraine at this critical juncture.



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