Trio of DDoS cyberattacks on Ukraine, was it Russia?

The websites of the Ministry of Defense and two banks were hit with Distributed Denial-of-Service techniques. But it is not possible to point the finger with certainty at the Kremlin.

Published on February 16, 2022 by Valentina Bernocco

In the back and forth of tension between Russia and Ukraine, there was also a hacker attack, indeed a cluster of Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. While the announcement of a partial withdrawal of troops from the Ukrainian border arrives from Moscow, but denials arrive from NATO and the White House (still 150 thousand soldiers are still in a "position of threat", said Joe Biden), the government of Kiev has announced yesterday that the sites of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and those of two public banks were hit by cyber attacks.

On Twitter, the Ministry of Defense then confirmed the incident: "The website of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine probably suffered a DDoS attack: an excessive number of requests per second was recorded". After several hours of disruption, access to the site is back to work. The same happened to the PrivatBank and Oschadbank websites, but here, in addition to the impossibility of navigation, online banking services were blocked for hours.

At the moment it is not possible to prove the Russian and "government" origin of these cyberattacks, although given the current geopolitical circumstances, the suspects naturally point towards the Kremlin. "You have to be very careful in this delicate phase, before openly accusing someone," commented Justin Fier, director of cyber intelligence & analytics at Darktrace. “Attributing responsibility in the cyber sphere, in fact, is a very dangerous game, and any miscalculation can be harmful. This attack could have been launched, for example, by someone who wants to take advantage of the already extremely tense situation in Ukraine ”.

"The media and information available", continued the expert, "suggest that this is yet another distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack, an attempt to obscure websites or networks by overwhelming Web servers with high volumes of traffic. . These unsophisticated attacks are relatively easy to mitigate but cybercriminals know full well that such an episode will make headlines, sparking a global controversy without doing enough damage to provoke a cyber counterattack reaction. "

Contacted by Reuters, the Russian Federal Security Service did not comment on the report. On the contrary, on a television link from the White House, Joe Biden took the opportunity to reiterate that the United States will not remain passive in the face of other cyber attacks: "If Russia attacks the United States or our allies through asymmetrical means, such as cyberattacks destructive against our companies or critical infrastructures, we are ready to respond ”.