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Ukrainian government websites hit by cyber attack

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Ukrainian government websites hit by cyber attack

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The websites of several ministries were affected, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Science. A message posted on the Foreign Ministry’s homepage in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish suggested that user data had been compromised and uploaded. “Be afraid and expect the worst,” the message read.

The Ukrainian security service said that the content of the sites had not been modified and that no personal data had been disclosed. Ukrainian officials did not immediately comment on who may be responsible for the hack. Kiev and its Western supporters have accused Russia of regularly launching cyber attacks against Ukraine in an attempt to destabilize the country. Russia has denied this.

A military escalation along the Ukrainian border further strained ties between Russia and the United States, after clashes over cybercrime, expulsions of diplomats and a migrant crisis in Belarus. The WSJ explains what is driving the wedge between Washington and Moscow. Composite Photo / Video: Michelle Inez Simon

The hack comes as Russia rallied tens of thousands of troops around Ukraine and demanded that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization give a binding guarantee never to grant the former Soviet republic the membership. Moscow this week began moving tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, rocket launchers and other military equipment westward from their bases in the Far East, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The United States and its allies held talks with Russia this week in an attempt to lower tensions, but they failed to make a breakthrough.

NATO has warned Russia against using disinformation and cyber attacks to destabilize Ukraine, which is seeking to integrate with the West.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned the attack on Friday. He said the alliance had been helping Ukraine for several years to strengthen its cyber defenses and that NATO specialists were working with their Ukrainian counterparts to deal with the attack.

Mr. Stoltenberg said that NATO and Ukraine will sign an agreement in the coming days to further strengthen cyber cooperation, “including Ukraine’s access to the information-sharing platform on NATO malware “.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday ahead of a meeting of foreign ministers in France that the bloc “would mobilize all our resources to help Ukraine fight this cyberattack”. He said he had no proof of who was responsible “but we can imagine”.

Moscow claims Ukraine is part of its sphere of influence and has used military, economic and other measures to bring its neighbor closer. Russia seized Crimea in 2014 and carved up two self-proclaimed breakaway states that have since been at war with the Kiev government.

Ukrainian security services said they were investigating the attack and its effects had mostly been corrected. The Foreign Ministry’s website was still down by mid-afternoon in Kiev.

Ukrainian soldiers work in a trench on the front line in the Donetsk region.


Photo:

Vitali Komar / Associated press

The post on the since-deleted website referred to Ukrainian insurgent fighters during WWII who are revered by some in Ukraine for fighting the Nazis and Soviets, lambasted as “fascists” by Russia and criticized for the massacres. from Poles.

Ukraine has been the victim of cyberattacks linked to the Russian government in the past, including attacks in 2015 and 2016 that resulted in power cuts for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians during the winter.

In the United States, cybersecurity experts and officials noted that the attacks coincided with the strengthening of Russian troops and the conclusion of three rounds of talks in Europe over the Ukraine crisis, but said it was not to be done. alone sufficient reason to conclude that Moscow was behind the assault. .

John Hultquist, vice president of intelligence analysis at US cyber company Mandiant,

said it was too early to tell who was responsible for the attack and that historically website damage has generally been “the domain of hacktivists and low-level hackers.”

Hackers that U.S. and Western officials have linked to Russian military intelligence – a group Hultquist and other cybersecurity researchers refer to as Sandworm – have engaged in website demolitions in the past. The US and UK governments blamed the group’s cyber attacks in 2019 on websites operated by the Georgian Nation Government, its courts and media.

“This incident could have been the work of government actors or government sponsored actors or it could have been the work of independent reacting elements of civil society,” said Hultquist, who personally followed. Sandworm operations for seven years. “It is important not to overestimate the capacity required to carry out this attack.”

Write to James Marson at james.marson@wsj.com and Dustin Volz at dustin.volz@wsj.com

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Ukrainian government websites hit by cyber attack

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