Ukraines’ Government Websites Hit by Russia, NATO & EU Condemned the Cyberattack, NATO to Boost Cyber Defense Cooperation with Ukraine

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Ukraine has been repeatedly targeted by cyber-attackers since 2014. Composite: Screengrabs by TheGuardian
Ukraine has been repeatedly targeted by cyber-attackers since 2014. Composite: Screengrabs by TheGuardian

On Friday, January 14, a number of Ukrainian government websites, including its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were targeted in a cyberattack with threatening text that warned Ukrainians to "be afraid and wait for the worst." Ukraine's government said that it appeared Russia was behind the attack. NATO & EU condemned the cyberattack, NATO, EU to boost cyber defense cooperation with Ukraine, US provide Ukraine with whatever support it needs to recover

The State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), together with the State Service of Special Communications and the Cyber Police, continues to investigate the cyberattack.

"So far, we can say that there are some signs of involvement in the incident of hacker groups associated with the special services of Russia," the SBU said in a statement on its website on Friday – Interfax-UKRAINE reported.

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Ukraines’ government websites hit by Russia, NATO & EU condemned the cyberattack, NATO to boost cyber defense cooperation with Ukraine, Defense Express
Early Friday morning local time, Ukrainian government websites, including that of the Foreign Ministry, displayed dark screens with a threatening text that said Ukrainians’ personal information had been hacked. “Ukrainian! All your personal data has been uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore them,” the message, published in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish, read.

The SBU said that in total more than 70 government websites were attacked, ten of which were subjected to unauthorized interference. At the same time, the content of the sites was not changed, and there was no leakage of personal data. After the attack, the work of most web resources was resumed.

"At the SBU initiative, a number of critical public resources were disabled, including the Diia public services portal, until the technical problem was localized and in order to prevent the attack from spreading. The Diia mobile application worked and is working normally. At the same time, the message about the exploitation by hackers of a specific vulnerability in the content management system, which appeared in the media during the day, was only one of the versions being processed," the SBU said.

All details of the incident are documented within the previously opened criminal proceedings of the SBU.

Ukraines’ government websites hit by Russia, NATO & EU condemned the cyberattack, NATO to boost cyber defense cooperation with Ukraine, State Security Service of Ukraine, Defense Express
The State Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), together with the State Service of Special Communications and the Cyber Police, continues to investigate the cyberattack / Photo credit: State Security Service of Ukraine

According to the press service of the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy a massive cyberattack on Ukraine's government websites was carried out from Russian territory – Ukrinform reported.

"On the night of January 13-14, a cyberattack hit a number of government websites - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the State Emergency Service, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Sports, the Ministry of Energy, and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy. Contrary to the allegations of the attackers, no data, including personal data, was leaked. The Diia app runs smoothly, all registers are securely protected. A number of government websites have been suspended as a precaution," the statement said.

Ukraines’ government websites hit by Russia, NATO & EU condemned the cyberattack, NATO to boost cyber defense cooperation with Ukraine, Defense Express
On Friday, January 14, a number of Ukrainian government websites, including its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were targeted in a cyberattack with threatening text that warned Ukrainians to "be afraid and wait for the worst." Ukraine's government said that it appeared Russia was behind the attack

According to the study, conducted by the Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security (Ukraine), the first data suggest that the attack was carried out from Russian territory. This is not the first time that Ukrainian websites have been exposed to attacks since the beginning of Russia's military aggression, and some cyberattacks have been so widespread that they have become part of the world's textbooks for cyber specialists. The purpose of such attacks is to destabilize the internal situation in the country and to sow chaos and despair in society.

Responding the attack NATO released special Statement by the NATO Secretary General on cyber attacks against Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has condemned the cyber attacks on the Ukrainian government.

Ukraines’ government websites hit by Russia, NATO & EU condemned the cyberattack, NATO to boost cyber defense cooperation with Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Defense Express
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has condemned the cyber attacks on the Ukrainian government / Photo credit: NATO

“NATO has worked closely with Ukraine for years to help boost its cyber defences,” the statement reads. NATO cyber experts in Brussels have been exchanging information with their Ukrainian counterparts on the current malicious cyber activities.”

NATO experts in country are also supporting the Ukrainian authorities on the ground, Stoltenberg was quoted as saying.

In the coming days, NATO and Ukraine “will sign an agreement on enhanced cyber cooperation, including Ukrainian access to NATO’s malware information sharing platform.”

Ukraines’ government websites hit by Russia, NATO & EU condemned the cyberattack, NATO to boost cyber defense cooperation with Ukraine, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Admiral Rob Bauer, Defense Express
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Lieutenant General Valerii Zaluzhnyi took part in a meeting of the NATO Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence Session with Ukraine and held meeting with Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Admiral Rob Bauer, January 13 / Photo credit: General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine

NATO’s strong political and practical support for Ukraine will continue, the secretary general concluded.

In its turne the European Union's chief diplomat Josep Borrell condemned the cyberattack, warning it contributes to the "already tense situation" in the region.

Ukraines’ government websites hit by Russia, NATO & EU condemned the cyberattack, NATO to boost cyber defense cooperation with Ukraine, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, Defense Express
High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell talks to journalists as he arrives to attend a working session during a European Union Foreign Ministers informal meeting (Gymnich) in Brest, western France, January 14, 2022. REUTERS/Stephane Mahe/File Photo

"We are going to mobilise all our resources to help Ukraine to tackle this cyber attack. Sadly, we knew it could happen," Josep Borrell told reporters at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in the western French city of Brest, as Reuters reported.

A US National Security Council official said the President Joe Biden had been briefed on the attack – CNN reported. The official in White House said the US did not have an attribution for the attack yet but would "provide Ukraine with whatever support it needs to recover."

Ukraines’ government websites hit by Russia, NATO & EU condemned the cyberattack, NATO to boost cyber defense cooperation with Ukraine, Defense Express
Satellite image shows self propelled artillery and other equipment amid the presence of a large Russian ground forces deployment near Ukraine’s border

Tensions between Ukraine and Russia are at their highest in years, with a Russian troop build-up near the two nations' borders spurring fears that Moscow could launch an invasion in the coming weeks or months.

Ukraines’ government websites hit by Russia, NATO & EU condemned the cyberattack, NATO to boost cyber defense cooperation with Ukraine, Defense Express
Ukrainian soldiers walk at the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels near Katerinivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine, on Dec 7, 2021 / Source: Andriy Dubchak / AP

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