Posted on January 14, 2022 at 11:00 PM
Ukraine is currently undergoing a major cyberattack. The websites of various government agencies in the country are currently suffering from this attack. Some of the attacked agencies include the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education.
The cybersecurity officials from the affected departments noted that the attack was still fresh. Thus, clear details could not be shared at the time. However, the officials hinted at the attacks being attributed to Russia, pointing to the “long record” of cyberattacks launched against Ukraine by Russia.
Ukraine government websites are down
The recent cybersecurity attack against Ukraine comes amid Russia engaging in talks with the West. The meeting between Russia, the US and its allies happened this week, but it ended without much being achieved.
The hackers, who at this point are believed to be affiliated with Russia, have left a threatening message on the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Reports state that the message reads, “Ukrainians! …All information about you has become public. Be afraid and expect worse. It’s your past, present and future.”
The threat did not just end with the message displayed by the hackers. The message also contained an image of the flag of Ukraine and the country’s map, which was crossed out. It also mentioned the Ukrainian insurgent army, also known as UPA. UPA was the army against the Soviet Union during the Second World War.
The message also had a phase that talked about “historical land”, which could be about the borders of Ukraine and Russia.
A publication from The Guardian mentioned a comment from a spokesperson from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Oleg Nikolenko. Nikolenko stated, “as a result of a massive cyberattack, the website of the ministry of foreign affairs and other government agencies are temporarily down.”
The spokesperson also noted that specialists in the cybersecurity space were already involved in restoring the IT systems. Additionally, cyber police had started their investigations to find the threat actors behind the hack.
Ukrainian cyberattack condemned
Josep Borrell, a top diplomat with the European Union, condemned this attack on Ukraine. The diplomat stated that the EU was committed to offering its support to Ukraine and establishing the way forward. The political and security committee would also meet to discuss this issue.
The statement from Borrell said, “We are going to mobilize all our resources to help Ukraine to tackle this. Sadly, we knew it could happen. It’s difficult to say who is behind it. I can’t blame anybody as I have no proof. But we can imagine.”
In Sweden, the foreign minister, Ann Linde, stated that the West needed to stand up against any aggressions from Russia, insinuating that the hacking attack was caused by Moscow. She also stated that Sweden would work with Kyiv to help it recover from the attack.
“We have to be very firm in our messages to Russia, that if there are attacks against Ukraine, we will be very harsh and very strong and robust in our response,” she stated.
This week, Russian envoys were involved in discussions with the US and other Western countries. The discussions were between Moscow, OSCE, NATO and the US. The Russian delegation was headed by Sergei Ryabkov, who stated that the talks did not bear fruit.
Russia has stated that Ukraine and Georgia should not be a part of NATO. Additionally, the Kremlin demands that NATO take its troops and military equipment away from its allies in Eastern Europe. The Kremlin wants NATO’s military deployment to go back to what it was in 1997 before the alliance grew.
The tensions between Russia and Ukraine started after the former started deploying military troops to its border with Ukraine. 100,000 troops have been deployed to the border, and heavy military hardware has been deployed.
After this week’s talks, the Russian Defence Ministry announced that additional equipment would be moved from the east of the country and redeployed to the border to be part of an exercise.
The tensions between Ukraine and Russia have existence since 2014. At the time, Russia took Crimea, which started a war. Cyberattacks have been the order of the day over the years. During the winter of 2015, Russian hackers allegedly hacked into the country’s power grid, leading to hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians losing access to heat. A similar attack happened in 2016.
In 2020, 397,000 cyberattacks happened in Ukraine, while another 288,000 attacks happened within the first ten months in 2021. A major attack happened in 2017 when Russian hackers were believed to cause the NotPetya virus that targeted banking institutions, large corporates and newspapers.