‘Scared’: Ukraine cyberattacks target government website news

The devastation ensues as tensions with Russia escalate and NATO and the European Union pledge to help Kiev fend off further attacks.

A massive cyberattack temporarily shut down Ukrainian government websites on Friday, officials said.

While it’s not clear who was behind the cyberattack, the damage occurred at a time of intensification Tension with Russia Talks between Moscow and the West failed to make any major progress this week.

Oleg Nikolenko, a spokesman for Ukraine’s foreign ministry, told The Associated Press that it was too early to tell who might have been behind the attack, “but Russia has a long track record of cyberattacks against Ukraine in the past.”

Moscow has previously denied involvement in the cyberattack against Ukraine.

The websites of the country’s cabinet, seven ministries, the finance ministry, the state emergency services and the state service website, which stored Ukrainians’ electronic passports and vaccination certificates, were temporarily unavailable on Friday due to the hack.

The sites included a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish, saying personal data of Ukrainians had been leaked into the public domain.

“Fear and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future,” the message read in part.

Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection said no personal data was leaked. Most of the affected sites were restored by late Friday, and no critical infrastructure was affected.

Oleh Derevianko, a leading private sector expert and founder of ISSP cybersecurity firm, said the timing and provocative messages of the defacement could be important.

Derevianko said this could be “part of a planned hybrid attack, or a longer-term and more sophisticated cyber operation that is underway but has not yet culminated,” and the main question is Whether this is a stand-alone hacking operation or part of a larger state-backed operation.

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia have been rising in recent months after Moscow assembled some 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, sparking fears of an invasion.

Moscow has said it has no plans to launch an attack and has rejected Washington’s demands to withdraw its troops, saying it has the right to deploy troops if necessary.

The Kremlin has required security assurance The West believes that NATO has refused to join Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states and has scaled back its military deployment in Central and Eastern Europe. Washington and its allies have declined to offer such commitments, but have said they are ready for talks.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday that in the coming days, “NATO and Ukraine will sign an agreement to strengthen cyber cooperation, including Ukraine’s access to a NATO malware information sharing platform.”

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Friday that the bloc was ready to mobilize resources to improve Ukraine’s defenses against cyberattacks.

“Sadly, we expect this to happen,” he said.

Asked who might have been behind the attack, Borrell said: “I can’t point anyone because I don’t have proof, but it’s conceivable.”

Russia has a long history of aggressive cyber operations against Ukraine, including hacking of its voting system ahead of the 2014 national election and attacks on the country’s power grid in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, Russia launched one of the most destructive cyberattacks on record. The NotPetya virus targeted Ukrainian businesses and caused more than $10 billion in damages worldwide.

In another development, Russia said on Friday it had dismantled REvil, a prominent hacking group that carried out a high-profile attack on IT software company Kaseya last year at the behest of Washington.

Cybersecurity was one of the main topics on the agenda of a summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden last June.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) said in a statement that it had “suppressed the illegal activities of members of the group” during raids on 25 addresses that swept 14 people.

The search followed an “appeal by relevant U.S. authorities.”