An Assessment: Pre-Invasion Attacks On Ukraine

Two months after the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, evidence is emerging about the extent and timing of a string of cyber attacks launched just before the invasion began. 

The United Kingdom, United States and European Union have said that Russia was behind a cyber attack that disrupted satellite internet connections across Europe on February 24. The attack left tens of thousands of home broadband modems in Ukraine and across Europe "inoperable," as well as knocking out thousands of wind turbines operated by electricity generators in Germany, according to the UK Foreign Office.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) assesses that the Russian Military Intelligence was almost certainly involved in the 13 January defacement of Ukrainian government websites and the deployment of destructive Whispergate malware

The NCSC also assesses that it is almost certain Russia was responsible for the subsequent cyber attack on  Viasat satellite services which began approximately 1 hour before Russia launched its major invasion of Ukraine.

Although the primary target is believed to have been the Ukrainian military, other customers were affected, including personal and commercial Internet users across Europe. 

Viasat has said that “tens of thousands of terminals have been damaged, made inoperable and cannot be repaired.” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said, “This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia against Ukraine which had significant consequences on ordinary people and businesses in Ukraine and across Europe. “We will continue to call out Russia’s malign behaviour and unprovoked aggression across land, sea and cyberspace, and ensure it faces severe consequences.”

This announcement came following a meeting of cyber security leaders from the Five Eyes, EU and international allies met at the NCSC’s Cyber UK Conference discuss the cyber threats facing the world. The Five Eyes had already called for immediate action by critical infrastructure organisations to “prepare for and mitigate potential cyber threats”.

Britain has previously sanctioned the Russian the GRU intelligence agency after their botched assassinations of Russian dissidents in Salisbury in 2018 and froze more than £940 billion worth of bank assets and £117 billion in personal worth from Russian citizens connected to President Putin. 

Gov.UK:     CyberUK:     Independent:       Euronews:  

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