Sunday, January 16, 2022

Attack on several ministries – Ukraine blames Russia for hacker attack

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A hacker attack on several ministries has shaken Ukraine. The government is now blaming Russia for it. The EU called an emergency meeting.

Ukraine has blamed Russia for a massive hacking of government websites. “According to initial data,” the attacks came from Russia, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy said on Friday in the capital, Kiev. For example, there were initial indications of the attacks in Russian media even before they were picked up in Ukraine.

The ministry’s experts suspected that the attacks were linked to “Russia’s recent defeat in talks on Ukraine’s future cooperation with NATO.”

Several ministries had previously complained about a cyber attack on their websites. Among other things, the official website of the government and the homepages of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Energy and Ministry of Civil Protection were affected. The attack was widespread, it said.

Early in the morning, the Foreign Ministry’s website temporarily featured the threatening words “Ukrainians! All your personal data has been deleted and cannot be restored. All information about you is published, be afraid and expect the worst” in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish to read language. A unit specializing in cyber attacks began investigating. The EU and Berlin pledged their help to Ukraine.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and the German government sharply condemned the cyber attack. Borrell said at the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brest, France, that the EU would mobilize all means to support Kiev. Among other things, an emergency meeting of the EU Political and Security Committee had been scheduled. It is also about technical assistance for Ukraine.

It is still unclear whether Russia was behind the attack, Borrell said: “We have no evidence, but it is conceivable.” Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg called the cyber attack “extremely worrying”. In Brest, he pointed out that a cyber attack could be the harbinger of military activities. On Thursday, Borrell announced an EU initiative to train leaders of the Ukrainian army to defend against cyber attacks.

A spokesman for the Federal Foreign Office also made clear in Berlin the German willingness to help Ukraine. It is being examined what such support could look like. “Many central government offices” in Kiev are affected.

According to the Ukrainian secret services, no personal data was stolen in the cyber attack. “Provocative messages were published on the home pages of the websites concerned, but the content of these pages has not been changed and, according to information so far, there has been no theft of personal data,” said the Ukrainian secret service SBU. A large part of the affected pages is accessible again and the remaining ones are “also very soon available again”.

The cyber attack came against the background of heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict. In view of a massive Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine, the West fears that Moscow could attack the neighboring country.

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