Ukraine points to Russian Secret Service in massive Kyivstar cyberattack

Written by Jeppe W

Dec.12 - 2023 3:32 PM CET

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Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com

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Ukraine has accused Russia's secret service of orchestrating a substantial hacker attack that disrupted services for the country's main phone operator, Kyivstar, which serves 24.3 million customers.

The cyberattack, which took place on Tuesday, has led to significant interruptions in mobile communications and internet access across Ukraine.

Ukraine's SBU security service has initiated a criminal investigation into the incident, involving several charges under the criminal code, including treason, sabotage, and unauthorized interference in communication networks. SBU agents have been dispatched to Kyivstar's offices as part of the investigation.

Oleksandr Komarov, Kyivstar's general director, addressed the nation on television, asserting that the attack is part of the broader war waged by Russia, extending into virtual space. "This is a war, it takes place not only on the battlefield, but also in virtual space," Komarov said.

He revealed that the primary aim of the attack seemed to be the extensive destruction of Kyivstar's IT infrastructure, which was partially achieved.

In response to the attack, Kyivstar physically disconnected from the network to mitigate damage and is actively working on restoring services. The company assured its consumers via Facebook that their data had not been compromised, despite the technical failure caused by the attack.

The cyberattack's repercussions were felt beyond Kyivstar. Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko reported significant network failures, affecting many subscribers. The breakdown also impacted other sectors dependent on mobile roaming, including emergency services. The northeastern city of Sumy reported that its air raid alert system would be temporarily non-functional due to the outage.

Additionally, the banking sector experienced disruptions. PrivatBank and Monobank reported issues with their services and cash terminals, with Monobank co-founder Oleg Gorokhovsky revealing that they had been the target of a "massive DDoS attack."

In a related development, Ukraine's military intelligence service, GUR, announced that it had successfully hacked into the Russian tax system, describing it as a "successful special operation."

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