US officials say Russia behind hack of Ukrainian satellite communications at invasion start: report

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The Russian military spy service, the GRU, was behind a hack that affected the Ukrainian military’s communications at the start of Russia’s invasion into the country, U.S. intelligence analysts say, The Washington Post reported, citing U.S. officials familiar.

An official from the communications company Viasat told the newspaper that satellite modems had been hacked last month, when the Russian invasion in Ukraine started. The Post noted that the impacted modems were part of the company’s satellite network in Europe. 

The Viasat official told the Post that distributors would be shipped new modems to be provided to those affected by the cyberattack.

Ukrainian officials told the newspaper that other government agencies had been affected by the hack in addition to the military. 

“We do not have an attribution to share at this time and are looking at this closely,” Saloni Sharma, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told the newspaper regarding the matter. 

“As we have already said, we are concerned about the apparent use of cyber operations to disrupt communications systems in Ukraine and across Europe and affect businesses and individuals’ access to the Internet.”

The Post noted that between 2014 and 2016, Ukraine had previously suffered several other cyberattacks from the GRU, including when its Central Election Commission was hacked and later when its energy grid suffered two attacks.

The White House and the president have warned that Russia “is exploring options for potential cyberattacks” against the U.S.

“I have previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the United States, including as a response to the unprecedented economic costs we’ve imposed on Russia alongside our allies and partners,” President Biden said in a statement on Monday. 

“It’s part of Russia’s playbook. Today, my Administration is reiterating those warnings based on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks.”

The Hill has reached out to the White House National Security Council, Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and Viasat for comment.

Tags Cyberattack GRU Hack Joe Biden National Security Council Russia Ukraine

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