Ukraine government websites down in latest cyberattack

Several Ukrainian government websites were down following a cyberattack on Wednesday, a Ukrainian official confirmed on Telegram, with banks’ websites also affected.

Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, said the disruptions, which began around 4 p.m. local time, were “another mass [distributed denial-of-service] DDoS attack” that targeted several state websites including the parliament, the foreign affairs and defense ministries.

This is the latest wave of cyberattacks against Ukrainian government websites. Last week, a top White House official said that Russian government hackers were allegedly behind cyberattacks targeting Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense and local banks.

Anne Neuberger, the White House deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology, told reporters that hackers working with Russia’s military intelligence directorate, or GRU, are believed to be responsible for distributed denial-of-service attacks reported in Ukraine last week. Russia has denied any involvement. 

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the U.S. has not made a definitive attribution of Wednesday’s DDoS attack but said it was “consistent with the type of activity Russia would carry out in a bid to destabilize Ukraine.”  

“We are going to move with urgency to assess the nature and extent of this, what steps that need to be taken and therefore our response,” Psaki said, noting that the Biden administration is also in touch with Ukraine officials on cybersecurity needs.  

“Cyber operations, like those we are currently witnessing in Ukraine, are here to stay,” said Melissa Griffith, a senior program associate with the science and technology innovation program at The Wilson Center.

Griffith added that the recent cyberattacks “are just one element of a much larger and pressing set of national security concerns.”

The attack comes amid escalating tensions between Kyiv and Moscow, as Russian President Vladimir Putin deployed troops on Monday into two separatist regions of eastern Ukraine — Donetsk and Luhansk. Putin recognized the two regions as independent from Ukraine. 

The U.S., along with its allies, responded to the Russian move with economic sanctions against the country’s banks and businesses.

Morgan Chalfant contributed. Updated at 4:48 p.m.

Tags Jen Psaki Vladimir Putin

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