The Ukrainian state, victim of a massive cyberattack

A massive cyberattack hit around 15 government sites last night in Ukraine. If it has not yet been awarded, all eyes are on Russia, as tensions are at their highest between the two countries.

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While talks have just concluded between the United States, its allies and Russia over a potential military offensive in Ukraine, the situation remains of great concern. In addition to the noise of boots on the eastern border of Ukraine, it is once again the cyber weapon that comes thundering. A few weeks ago, Futura explained that American and British cyber fighters had been deployed in Ukraine to help the authorities increase the country’s cyber defense. Experts were worried about an offensive that would start with a massive cyberattack from Russia.

And indeed, that night, about fifteen government agency websites actually suffered a cyberattack. Futura was able, for example, to notice that the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was no longer responding. Before it disappeared, on this site, a threatening message written in Russian, Ukrainian and, strangely, Polish was posted.

It was overlooked by a crossed out Ukrainian flag, the country’s map, and other crossed out patriotic symbols. The message stated that all personal data of Ukrainians had been uploaded to the web. He also mentioned the Ukrainian insurrectionary army and other nationalist organizations, which had fought alongside the Nazis, the USSR during World War II, and which carried out several massacres in certain areas of Poland which were disputed at the time.

A strange intention that could lead to believe that the perpetrators of the attack could be Polish and not Russian, as anyone might imagine. At the moment, the Ukrainian government cybersecurity teams are working on restoring the systems and cyber investigators are working on the subject. To carry out their attack, it seems that the hackers took advantage of a flaw in a website management system called October.

Cyber ​​attacks to prepare for the offensive?

Obviously, as is often the case, the evidence is lacking to attribute formally the attack, but it is towards the Kremlin that all eyes are turned. Thus, after having condemned the attack, without attributing it, the authorities of the countries supporting Ukraine and, in particular the European Union, indicated that they would provide their assistance to help the country. As Futura previously explained, Ukraine has been targeted multiple times since 2014, when Moscow annexed Crimea and started a war in the Donbass region.

Among the attacks, in 2017, there were NotPetya. It had an international impact and specifically targeted the Ukrainian economic sector to paralyze it. In 2015-2016, attacks on electrical infrastructure also took place with giant cuts. According to the latest official figures, there were around 288,000 cyberattacks in the first 10 months of 2021.

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Ukraine: how a cyberattack could cripple the country

As Putin threatens his Western opponents with a military response in Ukraine, the first weapon he could harness is a cyberattack. US experts believe that Russian hackers are capable of crippling the country by attacking its critical infrastructure. Explanations.

Article by Sylvain Biget, published on December 25, 2021

In Ukraine, between 2015 and 2016, a vague of 6,500 cyber attacks against institutions and infrastructure crippled twelve power plants in the country. In Ivano-Frankivs’k, in the west of the country, an attack on the Prykkarpatya Oblenergo power station left 250,000 users without power for six hours. Futura had visited the site and an engineer had shown the videos he had filmed with his phone.

On the monitors, you could see the hackers in action taking full control of the facilities. Impossible to regain control! As the electrical installations mixed Soviet and modern technology, the technicians were able to restart the current delivery points locally. The attack had been well prepared and the hackers had waited for the vacation period to take action.

Cut the current by attacking the distribution points ofenergyis to shut down all communications and paralyze a country entirely. This scenario would be possible in France and undoubtedly even more dangerous still. No need to hack them nuclear center to achieve this. Without electricity, all life stops and supermarkets that operate just in time would not last more than 48 hours. A disaster worse than a war physique !

As tension escalates between NATO members and Russia over the Donbass area, Ukraine fears that a wave of cyber attacks against its electrical systems is not getting ready. It should be noted that the cyber warfare Russian war against Ukraine never stopped even if, like that of the front line trenches, it remained low in intensity. But, according to US intelligence, it has intensified since last month, at the same time as the accumulation of Russian troops near the border in the east of the country.

The cyber weapon to prepare the ground

To prepare Ukraine for these cyberattacks, specialists from the United States and the United Kingdom have been deployed there. The idea is to improve the cyberdéfense country and increase its cyber resilience. The United States is even considering an on-site projection of resources from theUS Cyber Command. Will it just be to show that cyber fighters are there to intimidate Russian hackers? Certainly, because there is not much that can be done to secure the power grid Ukrainian.

As we have already mentioned, it is fragile because of its infrastructure dating from the Soviet era mixed with more recent elements from Russia. Likewise, the computer systems for controlling power plants are Russian. Finally, to top it off, the network is nested with that of Russia.

This is why, like an artillery salvo aimed at preparing the ground for an offensive, thecyber weapon would be a very effective way to cripple Ukrainian infrastructure. The objective: to start another battle of the war hybrid in order to destabilize the government to impose a leader who listens to Moscow. The cyber weapon is also ideal for regulating current voltage, since the proof of l’attribution would remain, as always difficult to bring.

In fact, there would be no need to embark on an adventurous land invasion. It would have serious consequences for Russia. In any case, experts imagine that if a massive cyberattack takes place, it will most likely come after Orthodox Christmas, that is, at the end of the first week of January. In the meantime, US intelligence officials are still trying to find an offensive response.

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