‘Massive’ cyber attack hits Ukrainian government websites – TheJournal.ie

A sweeping cyber attack briefly disrupted key government websites in Ukraine amid high-voltage tensions between Russia and the West over Ukrainian security.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the bloc was mobilizing «all its resources» to help its ally after the attacks that temporarily brought down sites, including those of the foreign ministry and cabinet.

Kiev said the damage was limited and halted due to censure, but the former Soviet state has accused Russians with ties to Moscow of past strikes on key websites and infrastructure.

«As a result of a large-scale cyber attack, the websites of the State Department and a number of other government agencies have been temporarily down,» a State Department spokesman told AFP.

Earlier today, the State Department website displayed a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish warning Ukrainians that their personal data had been hacked.

«All information about you has become public, fear and expect the worst,» the letter read.

The Ministry of Education also said that its website was targeted by a «global» hack overnight while the Ministry of Emergencies website was also shut down.

Within hours of the initial announcement, the SBU’s security services said access to most sites had been restored and that the repercussions were minimal according to initial estimates.

«The content of the sites has not changed, and according to preliminary information, no personal data has been leaked,» the security service of the State Security Service said in a statement.

The SBU said access to many of the affected sites had been restored, with the rest to return online «soon.»

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Kiev has not yet blamed any individual or entities, and Borrell said it was too early to “point the finger at anyone. We have no evidence.”

But he added, «You can imagine who did this.»

Russian military exercises

In October 2020, the United States accused six Russians of carrying out cyber attacks on Ukraine’s power grid, the 2017 French elections, and the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The Justice Department said at the time that the six were current or former members of the Russian military intelligence (GRU) and were also accused of a malware attack called «NotPetya» that infected corporate computers around the world causing an estimated $1 billion in losses.

The latest attack came at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, a close ally of the United States and Europe.

The West has accused Russia of deploying tanks, artillery and about 100,000 troops to war-torn Ukraine’s eastern border in recent weeks in what NATO says is preparing for an invasion.

Moscow says it has no plans to invade Ukraine.

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Footage released by the Russian Defense Ministry today showed Russian tanks and infantry carrying out firing exercises near the city of Rostov-on-Don in southern Russia near Ukraine.

Moscow says this is a response to what it sees as the growing presence of NATO in its sphere of influence, as it is vehemently opposed to NATO expansion.

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Russia also says the US-led military coalition should not accept Ukraine or Georgia as new members.

This week, the United States and its NATO allies held talks with Russia in an effort to ease tensions, but all three rounds of negotiations – in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna – failed.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said yesterday that Moscow does not see any reason to hold a new round of security talks with the West after the lack of progress.

Ryabkov also said he did not rule out the possibility that Moscow would send troops to Venezuela or Cuba if diplomacy failed.

© AFP 2022

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