Russian Cyber Attacks On Ukraine Increase

The Russian Government appears to have initiated and increased cyber attacks against Ukraine. In January a hacker groups linked to Russia's intelligence services were blamed for a cyber attacks that defaced dozens of Ukrainian government sites with a message warning the country to "be afraid and expect the worst." 

“All evidence indicates that Russia is behind the cyber attack,” the Ukraine Ministry of Digital Development said in a recent statement. 

While Ukraine feels the heat from Russia’s online attacks, government and cyber security experts elsewhere are worried that these hacking offensives could spill out globally, threatening Europe, the United States, and beyond. 

This follows a report from Microsoft that dozens of computer systems at an unspecified number of Ukrainian government agencies had been infected with destructive malware disguised as ransomware. Cyber security experts have said that the recent cyber attacks could be a precursor to more serious cyber assaults on Ukraine, which Russia is determined to prevent from joining the NATO security alliance. 

Intruders penetrated the government networks through a shared software supplier in a supply-chain attack like the 2020 SolarWinds campaign that targeted the US government. Russia's intelligence agencies are typically the main beneficiaries of their links with the cyber criminal underground, which it reportedly uses as a recruiting ground for cyber security talent. 

Russia has amassed about 100,000 troops on Ukraine's border, raising concerns Moscow may be preparing for an invasion of its neighbour. Russia annexed a portion of Ukraine in 2014.The United States, the European Union and Britain have repeatedly warned Russia against attacking Ukraine, although Russian officials say the West has no right to lecture Moscow on how to act after it expanded the NATO military alliance eastwards after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union and sowed chaos in Iraq and Syria.

The Russian troop buildup has prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity aimed at defusing tension. So far, those efforts haven't been successful and many commentators say that  if Russia does invade, it will undoubtedly employ more cyber attacks as part of its military strategy.

Cyber attacks will only be part of a broader campaign if Russia chooses to invade Ukraine, with malware and online disinformation being among the many weapons the country could use.

Western leaders can forsee that the 21st Century will be defined by a struggle between democracies and rivals such as China and Russia who they say are challenging the post-Cold War consensus militarily, technologically and economically. Companies that do business in Ukraine should be wary of spillover from cyber attacks on Ukrainian networks, government and industry executives have warned.

Ukraine Economy Ministry:     Reuters:   CNet:     MIT Technolgy Review:     AlJazeera:   

Guardian:     Tech Monitor:      CNN

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