US and Britain blame Russia for cyberattacks on Ukrainian websites

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Russia is responsible for the cyberattacks that took down the websites of Ukrainian government agencies and major banks in January, according to the White House. Anne Neuberger, the administration’s deputy national security adviser, said the government had “technical information linking the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU” to the hacks. Neuberger added that “GRU infrastructure has been seen forwarding high volumes of communication to Ukraine-based IP addresses and domains.”

According to PA and ReutersBritain has also publicly attributed the incident to Russia, saying the country’s GRU military intelligence agency was almost certainly involved. Although the attacks succeeded in taking down the targeted Ukrainian websites, Neuberger said they had “limited impact”, thanks to officials in the country who quickly secured and restored them.

The Ukrainian Defense and Foreign Ministries were among the affected websites, and a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish left by the attackers on the latter translated to: “Ukrainians! All your personal data has been uploaded to the public network. All data on the computer is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it.” The message also referred to the “historic land” and showed crossed out versions of the map and flag of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Information Ministry said at the time that there were early indications that Russia had carried out the attacks. Furthermore, the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy also suggested that references to Ukrainian ultra-nationalist groups were just an attempt by Russians to hide their imprint.

Neuberger said the White House is publicly challenging the Kremlin because “[t]he global community must be prepared to bring malicious cyber activity to light and hold actors accountable for any disruptive or destructive cyber activity. Although the attacks had a “limited impact,” the White House believes Russia could conduct more disruptive activities in the future followed by an invasion of Ukraine. President Biden announced on Friday that the United States United had obtained intelligence showing that the Russian Vladimir Putin had made the decision to invade Ukraine in the coming days.

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