Ukraine hackers target government websites, warn experts

Ukraine hackers target government websites, warn experts

Reuters hackers defaced and interrupted access to numerous Ukrainian government websites https: www.reuters. Experts said that com world europe exclusive-hackers- likely-used software-administration rights-third party-hit -- 2022 -- 01 -- 14 on Friday could be setting the stage for more serious cyberattacks that would disrupt the lives of ordinary Ukrainians.

As tensions grow, we can expect more aggressive cyber activity in Ukraine and possibly elsewhere, said John Hultquist, an intelligence analyst at U.S. cybersecurity company Mandiant. There were few intrusions by hackers on hospitals, power utility companies, and the financial system until recently. In the past two years, cybercriminals, many of whom live in Russia, have gone after institutions aggressively with ransomware, freezing data and computerized equipment needed to care for hospital patients.

In some cases, the extortion attacks have resulted in patient deaths, according to litigation, media reports and medical professionals.

Friday's attack on Ukrainian websites included a warning to be cautious and expect the worst at a time when Russia has amassed around 100,000 troops near Ukraine, raising fears in the West that it is considering an invasion. Moscow doesn't want to invade.

Russia has rejected hacking allegations that have been made by Ukraine and other countries over the years. Russia has not been directly accused by Ukraine, despite being a suspect in the new web defacements.

In 2014 Russian troops entered the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea and annexed it from Ukraine. If Russia invades again, more cyberattacks would occur, said former CrowdStrike cybersecurity executive Dmitri Alperovitch.

They would most likely be fatal, not disruptive, Alperovitch said. It will be a sideshow. The main show will be on the ground. Ukraine has suffered the brunt of some of the biggest hacks on its infrastructure to date.

In December 2015, a first-of-its-kind cyber attack cut the lights to 225,000 people in western Ukraine, with hackers also sabotaging power distribution equipment, complicating attempts to restore power.

The average temperature in Ukraine is below freezing in winter, and losing heat is potentially deadly. In some towns, the attacks in 2015 lasted six hours.

In the last two months of 2016 hackers targeted Ukrainian state institutions about 6,500 times, officials said. The cyberattacks showed Russian security services were waging a cyber war against Ukraine, the government said.

State workers and pensioners were unable to receive their salaries and payments because of an attack on the State Treasury for several days.

The attacks against Ukraine's power grid are considered by experts as the first examples of hackers shutting off critical energy systems that provide heat and light to millions of homes.