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Ukraine hit by ‘massive’ cyber-attack on government websites

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The attack came Friday amid high military and diplomatic tensions with Russia. Ukraine has suffered several cyber-attacks in recent years, including against critical infrastructure.

About fifteen Ukrainian government sites were targeted on Friday, January 14, by a cyber-attack, according to Kiev. L’agression, non revendiquée dans l’immédiat, survient dans un contexte de vives tensions entre l’Ukraine et la Russie, Kiev et ses alliés occidentaux accusant cette dernière de planifier une nouvelle invasion du territoire ukrainien.

Vendredi à la mi-journée, les sites internet de plusieurs ministères ukrainiens restaient hors service. “The official website of the Ministry of Education and Science is temporarily closed due to the global attack that took place on the night of January 13-14,” it said on its Facebook page. The sites of other ministries, including the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, were also inaccessible.

Before the Ukrainian diplomatic website was made inaccessible, a threatening message had been published on its homepage by the perpetrators of the attack. “Ukrainians, be afraid and prepare for the worst. All your personal data has been uploaded to the web.” This message written in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish was accompanied by several logos including a crossed-out Ukrainian flag.

Reactions to the cyber-attack

The European Union condemns the cyberattack carried out Friday, January 14 against several Ukrainian government sites and mobilizes all its resources to help Kiev, announced in Brest the head of European diplomacy.

“We have convened an emergency meeting of ambassadors of the EU Political and Security Committee to see how we can act and what technical assistance to provide to Ukraine,” said Josep Borrell, head of European diplomacy.

Nato announced on Friday 14 January its intention to sign an agreement with Ukraine on strengthening their cooperation against cyber-attacks, at a time when several Ukrainian ministries were the target of a massive hacking.

No leakage of personal data

The authorities in Kiev, while presenting the attack as “massive”, minimized its consequences. “Provocative messages were posted on the homepages of these sites, but the content of these sites has not been changed and no leakage of personal data has occurred, according to the information available,” assured Ukrainian intelligence services and cyber police. 

“A large part of the government resources that were affected have already been restored, and the others will be accessible again very soon,” they continued, while making known that sites had been voluntarily deactivated to prevent “the spread of attacks”

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