Microsoft has come out with an eye-opening report about the extent of cyberwarfare between Russia and Ukraine amidst the latter’s ongoing invasion by the Kremlin. The report reveals that several Russia-backed hackers have been targeting Ukraine with a dearth of cyberattacks, crippling critical services in the nation. It highlights that the attacks began at just about the same time as Russia’s military attack on Ukraine, and are meant to augment the damage Russia is able to deal to its neighbour.
The information was disclosed by Microsoft on Wednesday in what is called a “Special Report” on Ukraine. In it, Microsoft records that at least 237 cyber operations were carried out against Ukraine since the start of the invasion. It accredits about six separate Russia-aligned hackers for all these cyberattacks.
Among the 40 “destructive” attacks noticed till April 8, most targeted Ukrainian government organizations as well as critical infrastructure organizations in the country, the report reveals. These attacks by Russian threat actors used multiple families of malware, some of which include WhisperGate/ WhisperKill, FoxBlade, SonicVote, CaddyWiper, DesertBlade and FiberLake.
In sync with military invasion
The report by Microsoft is quite extensive, to the point that it maps the timeline of the cyberattacks against Ukraine from the start of the invasion to early April. A deep dive into this timeline reveals that the Russia-backed cyberattacks were well-timed with the country’s military attacks on its neighbour. The report shares some examples of this.
“A Russian actor launched cyberattacks against a major broadcasting company on March 1st, the same day the Russian military announced its intention to destroy Ukrainian “disinformation” targets and directed a missile strike against a TV tower in Kyiv,” Microsoft highlights.
Similarly, when Russian forces besieged the city of Mariupol around the middle of March, “Ukrainians began receiving an email from a Russian actor masquerading as a Mariupol resident, falsely accusing Ukraine’s government of “abandoning” Ukrainian citizens,” the report reveals.
Citing these and more such examples, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President Tom Burt boldly claims in a blog citing the report that the Russian cyberattacks are meant to “support the military’s strategic and tactical objectives.” In addition, he also sheds light on some espionage attacks as well as disinformation campaigns carried out by Russian hackers in other NATO member states. There is, however, still a possibility that the recorded attacks are just a fraction of the actual cyber activities targeting Ukraine.