Ukraine’s Security Service says it neutralized over 2,000 cyberattacks in 2021

Ukraine cyberattacks

Ukraine's Security Service at work against cybercrimes. Photo: Ssu.gov.ua 

Hybrid War

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) says it neutralized over 2,000 cyberattacks on government web resources and strategic infrastructure objects in 2021.

“According to the SBU, 80 criminals have been prosecuted, 26 of them have been sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. In addition, in the course of investigative and operational actions, dozens of networks of the Internet agency of the special services of the Russian Federation were exposed. On the instructions of their handlers, they carried out hostile information diversions…[by]spreading public appeals to seize power and violate the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Provocative materials were distributed through specially created Internet platforms and groups on social networks,” the SBU said.

In particular, according to the intelligence service, during 2021 blocked:

  • a cyber attack on Ukrainian government resources planned by representatives of the FSB-controlled hacker group Armageddon. Eight people received notices on suspicion of treason;
  • the work of a multinational hacker group that infected more than 150 computer networks of Ukrainian and foreign companies with the Egregor virus. SBU estimates the damage from the actions of the criminals at more than $80 million;
  • a special operation of Russia’s military intelligence to spread fake information about an alleged “conscription campaign and mobilization of minors” in Ukraine;
  • more than 20 bot farms with a total capacity of almost 150,000 accounts, which distributed “destructive content to disrupt the domestic political situation in Ukraine,” including COVID-19-related disinformation;
  • a “large-scale” fake permit scheme for sailors, which led to the generation of $150 million of illegal profits.

On the morning of January 14, more than 70 Ukrainian government websites fell under a massive cyberattack. The SBU reported that no data leakages were reported in connection with the cyber attack, according to preliminary information. The Security Service said it was investigating the “involvement of Russian intelligence services” in the events. The National Security and Defense Council suggested that Belarusian special services may also be involved in the cyberattacks.

Ukrainian official sites under massive cyberattack with a Russian trace

Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov assured that the data of Ukrainians is safe because the registers were not damaged due to the hacker attack.

No group has claimed responsibility for the hacker attack, but Russian hackers linked to Moscow have been repeatedly accused of cyberattacks on Ukraine’s government websites and infrastructure in the past.

The Kremlin’s cyber contractors. Their motives and risks

The European Union has said it is mobilizing resources to help Ukraine deal with the cyber attack on its government sites. European Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said it was unknown at this time who was behind the attack, but “we can guess.” And NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that in the coming days, NATO and Ukraine will sign an agreement to strengthen cooperation in cyberspace.

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