It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the hacking incident. “It’s too early to hold” responsibility, Viktor Zora, deputy head of Ukraine’s Service for Special Communications and Information Protection (SSSCIP) – which is investigating the incident – told CNN.
The incident comes as Russia has massed an estimated 150,000 troops near the Ukrainian border, according to US President Joe Biden, and as US officials have warned that a new Russian invasion could occur at any time. Russia denied it was planning to invade Ukraine.
SSSCIP identified the incident as a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, which floods a website with fake traffic to disable access to it. DDoS attacks are relatively cheap and easy to implement. While it can be annoying, it doesn’t necessarily require complexity.
Ukrainian officials said that by 7:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. ET), access to the websites of banks – PrivatBank and Oschadbank – had been restored. CNN journalists in Ukraine reported difficulty accessing defense agencies’ websites Tuesday night.
She falsely said that Ukrainian government officials “continue to monitor and cut” the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses through which hackers flood Ukrainian websites with traffic.
It can be difficult to trace DDoS attacks to their source as hackers can spoof their location to make it appear that they are in a country they are not.
Matt Tait, a cybersecurity expert and former information security specialist for the British government’s signals intelligence agency, said the DDoS attack appeared to be “part of a general campaign of harassment and demoralization of the public encouraged by the Russian government”.
“However, this is very different from military/kinetic cyberattacks that might be used in a direct conflict, such as disrupting facilities or achieving direct military objectives,” Tate told CNN. “For this reason, I would urge caution in viewing this event as a direct precursor to the invasion.”
Russia routinely denies carrying out cyberattacks.
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