As tensions over the threat of a possible invasion by Russia remained high, Ukrainian authorities said a series of cyberattacks knocked down the websites of the Ukrainian army, the defense ministry, and major banks on Tuesday.
Reportedly, the attacks knocked out at least 10 Ukrainian websites, including the defense, foreign, and culture ministries and the country’s two largest banks. In such attacks, websites are bombarded with junk data packets, rendering them unreachable.
“We don’t have any information of other disruptive actions that (could) be hidden by this DDoS attack,” said Victor Zhora, a top Ukrainian cyber defense official. He said emergency response teams were working to cut off the attackers and recover services as reported by the Associated Press.
At least 10 Ukrainian websites were unreachable due to a series of cyberattacks Tuesday, including those of the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, the Culture Ministry and Ukraine’s two largest state banks. https://t.co/BFT3uJ71rv
— The Associated Press (@AP) February 15, 2022
Among Ukraine’s largest state-owned banks, Privatbank, and state-owned Sberbank, customers complained about problems with online payments and apps.
Russia sent signals Tuesday that it might be pulling back from the brink, easing fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but Western powers demanded proof.
Since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, Ukraine has faced relentless cyberattacks by Russia.
On Russian statements regarding withdrawal of some forces from the Ukrainian border. We in Ukraine have a rule: we don’t believe what we hear, we believe what we see. If a real withdrawal follows these statements, we will believe in the beginning of a real de-escalation.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 15, 2022
As part of a cyberattack on Jan. 14, a malicious “wiper” cloaked as ransomware damaged servers at Ukraine’s State Emergency Service and at the Motor Transport Insurance Bureau. Cybersecurity experts believe it was deliberately designed that way, given Russian state-sponsored hackers’ capacity to do such damage. A message posted simultaneously on dozens of defaced Ukrainian government websites said: “Be afraid and expect the worst.”