Dozens of Ukrainian government sites have been hit by a worrying cyberattack, with hackers warning people to ‘be afraid and expect the worst’.
The attack took over the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cabinet of Ministers and the Security and Defense Council, displaying a message on the screens in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish that read: “Ukrainian! All your personal data has been uploaded to the public network. the computer data is destroyed, it is impossible to restore it.”
“All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future,” the hackers said.
“Following a massive cyberattack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily unavailable,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. Twitter. “Our specialists have already started to restore the operation of the computer systems, and the cyberpolice have opened an investigation.”
Kyiv officials did not say who was behind the breach, but in the past Russian hackers have been accused of similar attacks in Ukraine. It should be noted that similar cyber tactics were employed against Georgian government websites in 2008 during a brief dispute between Moscow and Tbilisi over South Ossetia. And in 2015, Sandworm, a Russian hacking group, hit the Ukrainian power grid.
The attacks come at a time of heightened tensions with Moscow, as around 100,000 Russian troops backed by tanks and artillery massed on the border with Ukraine in what some observers fear is a prelude to a invasion. The Kremlin has denied any plans to invade Ukraine.
The European Union’s top diplomat, Josep Borrell, condemned the cyberattack and offered to mobilize resources to help restore computer systems. “I can’t blame anyone because I don’t have any proof, but we can imagine,” Borrell said in an apparent Russian allusion.
In 2020, the US Department of Justice charged six hackers suspected of being officers of the Russian military intelligence branch in connection with computer intrusions against Ukraine and Georgia.
In recent weeks, Russia has escalated a longstanding demand that Ukraine, a former Soviet republic that gained independence after the collapse of the USSR at the end of the Cold War, never be allowed to join the NATO. The Kremlin made a similar request regarding Georgia.
Russian envoys and European and NATO leaders appear to have made little progress this week in resolving differences at talks in Vienna and Brussels.
On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told NPR All things Considered that the United States is fully prepared for a Russian invasion of Ukraine and ready to do “things that we haven’t done in the past” if necessary.
Speaking of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Blinken said “he may well not have fully decided what he is going to do.”
“We have, I think, a significant responsibility to help shape his thinking and again clarify from our perspective what the options are, what the consequences of the options that he might pursue will be,” Blinken said.