Hacker attack on ministries: Ukraine accuses Russia

A hacker attack on several ministries has rocked Ukraine. The government is now blaming Russia for it. The EU called an emergency meeting – NATO also reacted.

Ukraine has accused Russia of massively hacking into government websites. “According to initial data”, the attacks came from Russia, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy said in the capital, Kyiv, on Friday. In the Russian media there were already the first indications of the attacks even before they were picked up in Ukraine.

Ministry experts suspected that the attacks were linked to “Russia’s recent defeat in talks on Ukraine’s future cooperation with NATO”.

“Be afraid and expect the worst”

Several ministries had previously complained of a cyberattack on their websites. Among other things, the official government website and the homepages of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Civil Protection were affected. The attack was widespread, he added.

Early in the morning, the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs temporarily displayed the threatening words “Ukrainians! All your personal data has been deleted and cannot be restored. All information about you is published, be afraid and expect the worst ” in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish to read the language. A unit specializing in cyberattacks has begun to investigate. The EU and Berlin have promised their help to Ukraine.

EU calls emergency meeting

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and the German government strongly condemned the cyberattack. Borrell told the EU foreign ministers’ meeting in Brest, France, that the EU would mobilize all means to support Kyiv. Among other things, an emergency meeting of the EU Political and Security Committee had been scheduled. This is also technical assistance for Ukraine.

It’s still unclear if Russia was behind the attack, Borrell said: “We don’t have any evidence, but it’s conceivable.” Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg called the cyberattack “extremely worrying”. In Brest, he stressed that a cyberattack could be the harbinger of military activities. On Thursday, Borrell announced an EU initiative to train Ukrainian army chiefs to defend themselves against cyberattacks.

EU and NATO pledge support

A spokesman for the Federal Foreign Office also made clear in Berlin the German willingness to help Ukraine. We examine what such support might look like. “Many central government offices” in Kyiv are affected.

NATO also showed solidarity with Ukraine: “In the coming days, NATO and Ukraine will sign an agreement on enhanced cybersecurity cooperation, which also provides for Ukraine’s access to NATO’s platform for the exchange of malware information,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday. . The alliance has worked closely with Ukraine for years to strengthen the country’s cyber defenses.

Official information: No personal information was stolen

According to the Ukrainian secret service, no personal data was stolen during the cyberattack. “Provocative messages were published on the home pages of the sites concerned, but the content of these pages was not modified and, according to previous information, there was no theft of personal data”, said the Ukrainian secret service SBU. A large part of the affected pages is accessible again and the others are “also available again very soon”.

The cyberattack came amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the conflict in Ukraine. In view of a massive deployment of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, the West fears that Moscow could attack the neighboring country.

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