Massive cyberattack hits Ukrainian government websites as West warns on Russia conflict

Image Credit: REUTERS / Valentin Ogirenko / Picture

A massive cyber attack warning Ukrainians on Thursday night to “fear and anticipate the worst” affected government websites, leaving some websites inaccessible on Friday morning and prompting Kiev to launch an investigation.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry told Reuters it was too early to say who was behind the attacks, but said Russia had carried out similar attacks in the past.
The cyber attack, which affected the Foreign Ministry, the Cabinet and the Security and Defense Council, among others, sounded the alarm over a possible new Russian military invasion of Ukraine by Kiev and its allies.

“It is too early to draw conclusions, but Russia has a long history of (cyber) attacks on Ukraine in the past,” the foreign ministry told Reuters.
The Russian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Russia has previously denied any involvement in the cyber attack on Ukraine.

“Ukrainian! All your personal data was uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer has been destroyed, it is impossible to restore,” the message appeared on hacked government websites in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.

“All the information about you has become public. Fear and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future.”

Following a wave of indefinite talks this week on security in Europe, the United States warned on Thursday that the threat of a Russian military invasion of Ukraine was high.

Russia said the dialogue continued but reached a stalemate as it sought to persuade the West to prevent Ukraine from joining NATO and to pull back decades of alliance expansion in Europe, urging Washington to call it “non-starters.”

Commenting on the cyber-attack, a senior Ukrainian security official told Reuters: “All cybersecurity subjects were aware of such a possible provocation from the Russian Federation. Therefore, the response to these incidents is being carried out according to the government.

The government later claimed that it had restored most of the affected sites and that no personal data had been stolen. Several other government websites were suspended to prevent the attack from spreading, he said.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia broke down in 2014 after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of war the same year. Kiev forces and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The United States said on Thursday that Russia could try to justify a new military strike on Ukraine by comparing the situation with that of 2014.

Russia has warned of possible “catastrophic consequences” if the Kremlin does not reach an agreement on what it calls the “red lines” of security, but has said Moscow will not give up diplomacy and will speed it up.

Russian comments reflect a trend in which Moscow claims to pursue diplomacy but rejects calls to reverse the training of its troops near Ukraine and warns of unintended consequences for Western security if its demands are not heeded.

Ukraine has faced a series of cyber attacks since 2014, which have cut power, stabilized supermarket checkouts and forced the authorities to hold back the hryvnia currency after the bank’s computer system crashed. Ukraine believes the attacks are part of what it calls Russia’s “hybrid war” against Ukraine and its allies.

In 2017, a virus called Notepatia hit Ukraine and spread around the world by some experts, crippling thousands of machines as it spread to dozens of countries.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the “general baseless allegations.”

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