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Ukraine Reports Another Cyberattack on Banks, Defense Ministry

Newsweek logo Newsweek 2/15/2022 Lora Korpar
Ukraine has experienced another cyber attack, this time against banks and its defense ministry. Above, demonstrators display a banner in the colors of the Ukrainian flag reading "Stop [Russian President] Putin, Stop war" during a protest at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on January 30. © Photo by John Macdougall/AFP via Getty Images Ukraine has experienced another cyber attack, this time against banks and its defense ministry. Above, demonstrators display a banner in the colors of the Ukrainian flag reading "Stop [Russian President] Putin, Stop war" during a protest at Berlin's Brandenburg Gate on January 30.

The Ukrainian Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security has reported that two banks in the country and the defense ministry were targets of cybersecurity attacks on Tuesday.

While Ukrainian officials have not yet identified the hackers, it is likely they will blame Russia, Reuters reported. Tensions between the two countries have been rising, and Ukraine said Russia was responsible for large-scale cyberattacks on government websites last month, according to The Guardian.

Officials say cyberattacks are a likely precursor to a Russian invasion, Sky News reporter Deborah Haynes stated on her Twitter. Ukraine and the rest of the world have been preparing for the possibility of a military conflict between the two nations, as Russia has moved more than 100,000 troops to its western border with Ukraine, though it has denied having plans to attack.

In a statement released Tuesday, Ukraine's Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security appeared to imply Russian hackers were behind Tuesday's attack, which shut off access to the defense ministry's website.

"It is not ruled out that the aggressor used tactics of little dirty tricks because its aggressive plans are not working out on a large scale," it said.

A tweet from the Ukrainian defense ministry said its website likely suffered from a DDoS attack. A DDoS, or distributed denial-of-service, attack is "a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, service or network by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of Internet traffic," according to U.S. website security company Cloudflare.

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The Guardian reported in January that a cyberattack targeted several Ukrainian government websites, such as the education ministry and ministry of foreign affairs' sites.

A message reading, "Ukrainians! ... All information about you has become public. Be afraid and expect worse. It's your past, present and future," was left on the foreign ministry's website in January, leading many to suspect that Russians were behind the disruption, The Guardian added.

Ukraine's digital transformation ministry said in a statement that "all evidence points to Russia" being behind the January cyberattack, saying its purpose was "not only to intimidate society but to also destabilize the situation in Ukraine, halting the work of the public sector and crushing Ukrainians' trust in the authorities."

In the Reuters report, Oshadbank, one of the banks affected on Tuesday, said the cyberattack slowed some of its systems. Customers of the other bank, Privatbank, reported issues with payments and its banking app.

Newsweek previously reported Russia said it would pull back some of its troops near the Ukrainian border Tuesday, but Ukraine said it must see evidence of this before the two countries can talk about de-escalation.

Update 02/15/22 2:05 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add more information.

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