A wide-ranging cyberattack on Friday briefly took down key Ukrainian government websites amid high-tension tensions between Russia and the West over Ukrainian security.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the bloc was mobilizing ‘all its resources’ to help its ally after the attacks temporarily destroyed sites, including those of the Ministry and Cabinet of Foreign Affairs foreign.
Kiev said the damage was limited and held back on the division of responsibility, but the ex-Soviet country accused the Russians of having ties to Moscow for previous attacks on key websites and infrastructure.
“Following a massive cyberattack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily unavailable,” a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told AFP.
Earlier on Friday, the Foreign Ministry’s website posted a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish warning Ukrainians that their personal data had been compromised.
“All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst,” the message read.
The Department of Education also said its website had been the target of a “global” hack overnight, while the Department of Emergencies site had also been taken down.
Hours after the initial announcement, SBU security services said access to most sites had been restored and the fallout was minimal according to initial estimates.
“The content of the sites has not been modified and according to preliminary information, no personal data has been disclosed,” the SBU’s security department said in a statement.
The SBU said access to many affected sites had been restored, with others expected to come back online “soon”.
Kyiv has yet to charge any individual or entity and Borrell said it was too early “to point fingers at anyone. We have no evidence.”
But he added: “You can imagine who did that.”
Russian military exercises
In October 2020, the United States accused six Russians of carrying out cyberattacks on the Ukrainian power grid, the 2017 French elections and the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The Justice Department said at the time that the six were current or former members of Russia’s GRU military intelligence and were also accused of masterminding a malware attack called “NotPetya” that infected computers. businesses worldwide, causing nearly a billion dollars in losses.
The latest attack came at a time of rising tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, a close ally of the United States and Europe.
The West has accused Russia of deploying tanks, artillery and around 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s war-torn eastern border in recent weeks, in what NATO says is preparations for an invasion.
Moscow says it has no intention of invading Ukraine.
Footage released by the Russian Defense Ministry on Friday shows Russian tanks and infantrymen carrying out firing exercises near the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, near Ukraine.
Moscow says it is a response to what it sees as NATO’s growing presence in its sphere of influence, where it fiercely opposes Atlantic alliance expansion.
Russia also says the US-led military alliance should not admit Ukraine or Georgia as new members.
This week, the United States and its NATO allies held talks with Russia in an attempt to ease tensions, but all three rounds of negotiations – in Geneva, Brussels and Vienna – proved fruitless.
Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said Thursday that Moscow saw no reason to hold a new round of security talks with the West following the lack of progress.
Ryabkov also said he did not rule out the possibility that Moscow could deploy forces to its allies, Venezuela or Cuba, if diplomacy fails.
© Agence France-Presse