Russia has been behind a series of cyberattacks linked with its conflict with Ukraine earlier this year with wide-ranging impact across Europe, the European Union (EU), the UK and the US said on Tuesday. The western allies said the most recent attack was on the communications company Viasat in Ukraine, which had a wider impact across the European continent, disrupting wind farms and internet users in central Europe.
The UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) assesses that the Russian Military Intelligence was “almost certainly” involved in the January 13 defacements of Ukrainian government websites and the deployment of a destructive malware called Whispergate.
“This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia against Ukraine which had significant consequences on ordinary people and businesses in Ukraine and across Europe,” said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
“We will continue to call out Russia's malign behaviour and unprovoked aggression across land, sea and cyberspace, and ensure it faces severe consequences,” she said.
The NCSC said it also assesses that it is “almost certain” Russia was responsible for the subsequent cyberattack impacting Viasat on February 24.
At the time, a cyberattack against Viasat began approximately one hour before Russia launched its major invasion of Ukraine. Although the primary target is believed to have been the Ukrainian military, other customers were affected, including personal and commercial internet users. Wind farms in central Europe and internet users were also affected.
Viasat has said that “tens of thousands of terminals have been damaged, made inoperable and cannot be repaired”.
The announcement this week comes as cybersecurity leaders from the Five Eyes intelligence alliance – comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States – the EU and others are meeting at the NCSC's Cyber UK conference in Newport to discuss the cyber threats facing the world.
The UK government highlighted that it has already sanctioned the Russian Intelligence network GRU after their poisoning incidents in the city of Salisbury, and has frozen more than GBP 940 billion (roughly Rs. 89,38,530 crore) worth of bank assets and GBP 117 billion (roughly Rs. 11,12,613 crore) in personal net worth from oligarchs and their family members who back Russian President Vladimir Putin.