According to Ukraine, cyberattacks perpetrated by Russia led to the defacing of its government websites, suggesting Russia has been engaging in a “hybrid war” against its neighbor.
An unspecified number of organizations affiliated with the Ukrainian government were infected with destructive malware disguised as ransomware a day earlier, according to a statement from the Ministry of Digital Development. In other words, there was a diversion in the attention-grabbing defacement attack on official sites last week.
According to the statement from the ministry, “all evidence indicates that the cyberattack is orchestrated by Russia. Moscow is actively building up its forces in the cyber and information spheres.”
At the same time as these attacks are taking place, the Russian threat to invade Ukraine grows, and diplomatic efforts to resolve the tense standoff seem to be stalled.
In a short blog post Saturday, Microsoft noted that it discovered the malware on Thursday. That occurred at the same time as the attack that temporarily shut down 70 websites owned by Ukrainian government agencies.
According to a Microsoft blog post, the affected systems affect several government agencies, non-profit organizations, and information technology companies. According to the statement, the company is unaware of how many more organizations in Ukraine or elsewhere are infected but expects to learn of more.
The Associated Press reported that Oleh Derevianko, a top cybersecurity executive in the Kyiv private sector, said the attackers penetrated government networks through the supply-chain attack like the 2020 incident. U.S. government was targeted by the SolarWinds Russian cyberespionage campaign.
NotPetya, a ransomware-style virus that was disguised as a virus, was a so-called “wiper” that destroyed entire networks. In 2017 it was the most devastating cyberattack on record for Ukraine, resulting in more than $10 billion in damage world-wide.
On Friday, a mass web defacement was carried out, in which attackers left a message claiming that they had destroyed data and posted it online, which Ukrainian authorities said had not taken place. Ukrainians were urged to expect the worst and be afraid.