Russian hackers targeting humanitarian efforts, Ukraine says
Bloomberg March 23, 2022
A top Ukrainian cybersecurity official said Wednesday that Russian hackers are attacking logistical lines in the war-torn country, including those delivering food and humanitarian support.
Victor Zhora, deputy chief of Ukraine’s information protection service, said the cyberattacks are mostly linked to Russia’s ground and air campaign. He declined to provide specifics on the attacks, citing security concerns.
Zhora, who has provided regular updates on the role of cyberattacks in the conflict, said Russian hackers have targeted government and private-sector organizations, including internet-service providers and energy companies.
The attacks have mostly been unsuccessful or caused minor disruptions, he said. He also said that despite efforts by Russia to knock out Ukrainian communication networks, most areas have maintained cellular coverage, or restored outages quickly.
Most of Ukraine’s telecommunications infrastructure is privately owned, and he described efforts to keep the networks functioning as “very close to heroism.”
“This is one of the factors that probably explains the success of Ukrainian resistance,” he said.
Zhora described assistance from Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. as “simply priceless.” SpaceX’s Starlink service has provided backup internet service in Ukraine, after the country’s deputy prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, implored Musk after Russia’s invasion.
“This is backup infrastructure,” Zhora said. “It was tested everywhere, and it works.”
Ukrainian officials have observed hacking activity from groups aligned with other governments, according to Zhora, but he said he didn’t yet know if those efforts are aligned with Russia.
He also said cyberattacks have also targeted charitable organizations in Europe that are providing support to refugees. In a March 4 blog post on its assistance in Ukraine, Amazon.com Inc. said it had “seen several situations where malware has been specifically targeted at charities, NGOs and other aid organizations to spread confusion and cause disruption.”
“In these particularly egregious cases, malware has been targeted at disrupting medical supplies, food and clothing relief,” according to the blog.
Moscow has consistently denied involvement in any malicious cyber activity.