UK, US officials say Russia was behind DDoS attacks against Ukraine

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UK and US officials have blamed Russia’s intelligence agency for carrying out last week’s distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against Ukraine.

The attacks, which took place on 15 February, targeted the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, as well as Ukraine’s largest commercial bank, PrivatBank, and the State Savings Bank of Ukraine, Oschadbank.

On Friday, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said that technical information from the attacks show that Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) was responsible for the attacks against the two Ukrainian banks.

In a statement, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) described GRU’s activity as “yet another example of Russia’s aggressive acts against Ukraine”.

“This disruptive behaviour is unacceptable, Russia must stop this activity and respect Ukrainian sovereignty. We are steadfast in our support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression,” the FCDO spokesperson added.

In a White House press briefing on Friday, deputy national security advisor Anne Neuberger also said that the Russian government was responsible for "the wide-scale cyber attacks on Ukrainian banks"

“​​Russia likes to move in the shadows and counts on a long process of attribution so it can continue its malicious behaviour against Ukraine in cyberspace, including pre-positioning for its potential invasion.

“Known GRU infrastructure was seen transmitting high volumes of communications to Ukraine-based IP addresses and domains,” Neuberger said, adding that the US is working to help Ukrainian network defenders to “respond to and recover from cyber incidents as well as strengthen the resilience of cyber critical infrastructure”, as well as “cooperating with Allies and partners to disrupt and respond to malicious cyber activity”.

“That includes work to share intelligence regarding malicious cyber techniques and ensure the global community is ready to rapidly call out malicious cyber activity as appropriate,” she said.

On Saturday, the Russian Embassy in the US denied the accusations and described Neuberger’s statement as “purely anti-Russian”.

“We categorically reject these baseless statements of the administration and note that Russia has nothing to do with the mentioned events and in principle has never conducted and does not conduct any "malicious" operations in cyberspace,” the embassy stated in a Twitter post.

Sabina Weston

Having only graduated from City University in 2019, Sabina has already demonstrated her abilities as a keen writer and effective journalist. Currently a content writer for Drapers, Sabina spent a number of years writing for ITPro, specialising in networking and telecommunications, as well as charting the efforts of technology companies to improve their inclusion and diversity strategies, a topic close to her heart.

Sabina has also held a number of editorial roles at Harper's Bazaar, Cube Collective, and HighClouds.