Special Report: Hackers Brought Down Ukraine Government's Public-Facing Digital Infrastructure
Message stated 'be afraid and expect the worst,' Attacks follow breakdown of diplomatic talks, US, UK and EU reach out to help, Ukraine says most of affected resources have already been restored
In attacks that are ominous for their timing, hackers brought down several Ukrainian government websites posting a message on the site of the Foreign Ministry saying, “Be afraid and expect the worst.” The attacks came after the apparent breakdown of diplomatic talks between Russia and the West intended to forestall a threatened Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine did not directly blame Russia for the attack but pointedly noted a long record of Russian online assaults against Ukraine.
“Ukrainians! All your personal data was uploaded to the internet,” the message read. “All data on the computer is being destroyed. All information about you became public. Be afraid and expect the worst.” It also raised several historical grievances between Poland and Ukraine.
The hacks crippled much of the government’s public-facing digital infrastructure, including the most widely used site for handling government services online, Diia, which also has a role in Ukraine’s coronavirus response and encouraging vaccination. Ukraine has been a frequent digital battleground for Russia, leading to some of the most severe cyberattacks to date, including two shutdowns of portions of Ukraine’s power grid.
UK and U.S. officials have reached out to offer cybersecurity responders assistance, and the European Union's chief diplomat Josep Borrell said the bloc would "mobilize all our resources to help Ukraine to face these cyberattacks." The EU also called for the Political and Security Committee (PSC) to gather for an emergency meeting to discuss "how we can provide technical assistance to Ukraine to it increase its resilience against these kinds of attacks.”
Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations (SBI) and the State Special Communications Service are investigating the incident and collecting digital evidence. “The Security Service of Ukraine and the State Service for Special Communications, together with the relevant state authorities, are investigating the incident and collecting digital evidence. Most of the affected state resources have already been restored, others will be available in the near future," the SBI’s press service said. (Andrew Kramer / New York Times and LAURENS CERULUS, JACOPO BARIGAZZI AND DAVID M. HERSZENHORN / Politico EU and Interfax)
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