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Ukrainian Government sites attacked amid high tensions with Russia

Multiple Ukrainian government sites were temporarily disabled by hackers who left messages warning readers to be afraid and expect the worst. The government’s cabinet, security and defence councils and ministry for education were amongst the targets. 

Despite there being no clear culprit behind these cyberattacks, officials suggest that Russia is responsible, considering there are an estimated 100.000 Russian troops on Ukrainian borders.

The Ukraine Cyber Police have launched an investigation and are yet to identify suspects. However, as reported by Sky News, EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrel condemned the attack, saying that while they have no evidence of who’s responsible, “we can imagine who is behind it”. Borrel added that an emergency EU meeting has been called to respond.

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The games begin

Some websites were back online by midday Ukrainian time, but the foreign and education ministry’s sites were still down. Some websites also had a text published in three languages — Ukrainian, Polish and Russian stating that all data belonging to Ukrainians on the network has been made public.

This isn’t the first instance of Russia targeting Ukraine’s cyberinfrastructure, either. Moscow has been accused of multiple cyber assaults, much more severe than this, including attacks on critical national infrastructure like power.

During its 2008 invasion of Georgia, Russia deployed cyberattacks as a preparatory step to ground warfare. Cyberattacks were also used to target Georgian government sites and web infrastructure weeks before Russia took control of two separatist regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which it still holds today. 

Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea also used a similar strategy, although the cyberattacks were more towards sowing confusion rather than disabling critical services.

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