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Ukraine: Cyberattack targets army, banking websites, Moscow denies involvement

The situation in Ukraine remains very tense and confusing. Several official Ukrainian military websites and two state-owned banks were the target of a cyber attack, Ukrainian authorities said Tuesday night, amid a crisis in relations with Russia. “Since noon, a powerful DDOS attack (a computer attack aimed at making a service unavailable) has been observed on several Ukrainian resources,” the State Service for Special Communications said in a statement.

The attack was aimed at the websites of the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, which were inaccessible, as well as the banks Privatbank and Oschadbank, whose online services were disrupted. These two banking institutions resumed operations in the evening.

The government’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security pointed the finger at the “aggressor” (a term commonly used to refer to Russia) in a statement posted on Facebook.

For its part, Moscow denies any involvement. “Russia has nothing to do with any cyber attacks,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov assured this Wednesday, saying that “it was predictable that Ukraine would continue to blame Russia for everything.”

A harbinger of the coming?

While the past two days have been marked by a – very relative – calm in the diplomatic situation, this new incident comes at a time when, after intense diplomatic exchanges and the threat of sanctions, Russia, suspected of preparing an invasion of Ukraine, announced on Tuesday the withdrawal of some of its military units concentrated on borders of this country, officially to conduct maneuvers there. “A group of cybersecurity specialists (…) is taking all necessary measures to (…) localize the cyber attack,” the State Special Communications Service assured on Tuesday.

Large-scale cyber attack in January

Westerners described the announcement as a positive sign but stressed they were waiting for it to be adopted. A large-scale computer attack on Ukrainian strategic infrastructure with the aim of disrupting the government is one of the scenarios that is mentioned as a potential harbinger of a classic military offensive.

In January, Ukraine already became the target of a large-scale cyber attack on a number of government websites. Authorities then said they had evidence of Russian involvement.

Source: Le Parisien

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