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Ukraine Hit with Cyberattacks as Tensions with Russia Continue

Reports show that websites for the embattled nation's defense and financial entities were struck by debilitating attacks on Tuesday.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Photo: Anadolu Agency / Contributor (Getty Images)

A series of cyberattacks struck the websites of Ukrainian banks and defense agencies on Tuesday. It’s not at all clear who is responsible, though the attacks come as a diplomatic crisis involving Russia and the U.S. continues to roil the region.

Ukraine’s defense ministry tweeted on Tuesday that its website had likely been affected by a denial-of-service attack—a rudimentary type of attack that overloads a website’s server with traffic and causes it to crash. Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security similarly confirmed attacks on the state-owned Privatbank and Oshchadbank, two of the nation’s largest financial entities. An attack on the website of Ukraine’s Armed Forces appears to have occurred as well.

Netblocks, which monitors the internet for network disruptions, has confirmed that Ukraine’s banks and military agencies are currently experiencing a drastic drop in connectivity, the likes of which is “consistent” with a DoS attack. “Metrics indicate impact beginning from early Tuesday intensifying in severity over the course of the day. Work is ongoing to assess the incident, which is ongoing at the time of writing,” Netblocks researchers wrote in a post on Tuesday.

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Journalists stationed in Ukraine have also confirmed that the connectivity problems are affecting everyday Ukrainians. “In Ukraine right now, hackers are attacking state-owned Privatbank & Oschadbank, as well as Ministry of Defense,” tweeted Buzzfeed reporter Christopher Miller on Tuesday. “ATMs & banking services interrupted. MOD and Armed Forces websites are down (picture below). Confirmed by gov’s Center for Strategic Comms and Info Security of Ukraine.”

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Cyberattacks have already played a critical role in the political conflict. In January, a defacement attack struck dozens of Ukrainian websites, spreading a fear-mongering message. Around the same time, a mysterious malware attack wiped data from several government agencies. Some commentators have claimed that these attacks may be the precursor to a Russian invasion of Ukraine, though—so far—it’s not at all clear whether that’s the case.