Hacking and War in Ukraine

Microsoft released a detailed report that showed Russian hackers correlated their attacks with physical military operations. Russia is using three primary attack vectors in the technology space: disinformation campaigns, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to knock web services offline, and malware to erase all data from a network or computer. The Microsoft report showed six distinct hacker groups who have been involved in attacking Ukrainian targets since the Russian invasion. Russia favored coordination attacks when they target telecommunication infrastructure. They targeted telecom or internet providers with both, cyber and physical, military attacks at the same time.

Russia has a history of high-profile cyberattacks on Ukraine. In 2014, Russia used cyberattacks to accompany the military war in Eastern Ukraine. In 2015, the cyberattacks knocked out the power grid in Ukraine. However, when Russia ramped up its cyberattacks leading up to the military invasion in February, it did not achieve the same results as in previous years. Ukraine has bolstered its cyber defense since 2015 at the university level. The Ukrainian University cybersecurity has a faculty of 125 trained instructors with more than 700 cybersecurity students. This backbone of cybersecurity professionals is believed to be the reason Ukraine has been able to keep the internet on even in the hardest-hit areas.

At the same time, Russia is being attacked with cyber tools at an unprecedented level. Ukraine is using DDoS attacks to knock government services, aviation companies, and online payment systems offline to disrupt government and citizens’ daily activities. Additionally, hacktivists from around the world are joining the barrage of cyberattacks on Russia in favor of Ukraine. DDoS attacks are the most prevalent vector, but ransomware has also been seen targeting Russian network vulnerabilities. The DDoS attacks against Russia have become markedly longer in duration as well growing from minutes to days, the longest lasting a week.

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Posted by Charles Wright