An Invasion Of Ukraine Might Coincide With Cyber Attacks On Western Banks

Russia  could conduct sophisticated cyber attacks on the West if it doesn't meet its security demands in relation to NATO's ties with Ukraine. This would likely include attacks on EU and US banks to inflict economic chaos on the international economic system.

The European Central Bank (ECB) has told banks to conduct cyber war games to test their ability to fend off a potential attack, with financial regulators on high alert for a new strike. The British Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned UK banks to stress test their cyber defences as fears grow of Russian-sponsored cyber attacks amid tensions in Ukraine.

Earlier this year, multiple Ukrainian websites were hit by a cyber strike that left a warning to 'be afraid and expect the worst', as Russia amassed more than 100,000 troops near their borders. Ukraine's state security service said it saw signs the attack was linked to hacker groups associated with Russian intelligence services. Russia  has consistently denied that it has anything to do with hacking exploits, however, Britain's National Cyber Security Centre has warned large organisations to bolster their cyber security resilience amid the deepening tensions over Ukraine.

The US Government  has blamed Russia for the devastating cyber attack in 2017, when a virus crippled parts of Ukraine's infrastructure, taking down thousands of computers in dozens of countries and this vulnerability was underscored again last year, when one of the biggest ever hacking campaigns used the US SolarWinds IT Services company as a springboard to compromise a raft of US government agencies This wide ranging e attack gave hackers access to thousands of companies using its products, rippling through Europe.

The heightened fears come as Russia assembles troops and armoured vehicles in combat formation on annexed Crimea near mainland Ukraine. The continued war games will do little to reduce fears of an impending invasion.

  • Russia and Ukraine have been locked in a bitter conflict since 2014, when Ukraine's Kremlin-friendly president was ousted, Moscow annexed Crimea and then backed a separatist insurgency in the east of the country. The fighting between Russia-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces has killed over 14,000 people.
  • In 2015, France and Germany helped broker a peace deal, known as the Minsk agreements, that ended large-scale hostilities but failed to bring a political settlement of the conflict. Russia has repeatedly accused Kyiv of sabotaging the deal, and Ukrainian officials in recent weeks said that implementing it would hurt Ukraine. 

A military invasion would likely land Russia with its own economic sanctions, but insiders fear Russia may strike first and try to disrupt the West's economic structures. The ECB, led by former French minister Christine Lagarde and which has oversight of Europe's biggest lenders, has already diverted its attention from regular scams to cyber attacks launched from Russia, according to sources.

NCSC:    Reuters:    FT.com:      CNBC:         City AM:         Express:      Daily Mail

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