The alleged war has taken a new turn in the middle of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The recent cyberattacks seem to epitomize Russian hackers using their new offensive strategy to sabotage Ukraine. The latest developments and multiple attacks have paved the way for Moscow to implement its new multi-pronged hybrid technology to persuade Kyiv’s military and resources for personal benefits for the latter.
The plan has intensified the tension between the two regions and is creating a new hellfire for those involved with the two countries. According to a recent report by Microsoft, the plan is working to include destructive methodologies and the use of missiles and cyberattack on the infrastructure in Ukraine and its people. In the last few months, Russian hackers claimed many attacks and data breaches in Ukraine and have continuously evaluated their strategies to target Ukraine’s energy, water, and other critical infrastructure organizations.
According to Microsoft, the winters would only damage Ukrainian resources and affect nations supporting Ukraine in the war. Moreover, Russia aims to bridge the gap between cyberattacks and attacks via online media — creating a full circle over Ukraine and its regional associates. Microsoft believes these tactics would be detrimental in the long run and could potentially damage Ukraine’s economy. The continuation of these attacks suggests that winter 2023 would become an area of dissension where several Pro-Russian campaigns would initiate to try pulverizing Ukraine and its resources, including but not limited to energy, infrastructure, IT, military, and political foreground.
Russian cyberattacks expected to increase this winter
In early 2022, Russian began its campaigns toward impairing Ukraine, and over the next ten months, it commenced several cyber-attack campaigns. In January 2022, Russia attacked the Ukraine government, changed the text for most of its website, and posted the message “be afraid and wait for the worst”. According to sources, the attack compromised 70 government websites, including authorities and crucial departments. Within the same timeframe, Russian hackers launched another attack installing malware on government websites, NGOs, and other private firms in Ukraine.
In February and March, the cyberattack campaigns continued and damaged several government websites and big conglomerates nationwide. With the current state of motion, the cyberspace sector would soon manifest into aggressive cyber operations that could target the countries and companies supplying Ukraine with essential aid and ammunition this winter. Microsoft believes that the current trends and the attacks will only get aggressive from this point onward — creating a more unparalleled predicament for Ukraine and its supporting partners. Moreover, the tensions between the Ukraine-Russian borders will only increase, potentially leading to new conflicts and forceful war paranoia between the two nations.
What are the types of attacks expected?
Russia will soon begin its next wave of attacks solely to exploit and form destabilizing alliances critical to Ukraine’s resilience. It is still unclear what kind of attacks Russia would use to target Ukraine. However, looking back at the recent attacks, it seems that the former Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) would only become aggressive this winter, affecting Ukraine and its partners.
The recent cyberattacks by Russia on Ukraine are a cause for concern for the upcoming cyberwarfare in Europe. The attacks were aimed at the Ukrainian government and critical infrastructure, and they were successful in disrupting services and causing damage. This has led to fears that Russia may be planning to use cyberwarfare as a tool to destabilize Ukraine.
The Ukrainian government has accused Russia of multiple attacks in the last ten months, and the Russian-backed hacker collective Kremlin has denied involvement. However, there is evidence that Russia was behind many of these attacks that were exclusively targeting Ukraine. For example, the malware used in many of these attacks has been linked to previous instances of the exact nature — though denied by Russia. Additionally, many of the targets of the attacks are located in areas where Russian troops have been deployed, further cementing the nation’s cyber espionage and destructive activities.
These attacks come amid tensions between Russia and Ukraine over the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Several reports of Russian troops crossing into Ukrainian territory have been reported in recent months. This has led to fears that Russia may be preparing to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine — the worst we have seen today.
The situation has become even more worrying because Russia has a history of using cyberwarfare as a tool of warfare. In 2007, Russia was accused of launching a series of cyberattacks against Estonia. The attacks coincided with a military confrontation between Estonia and Russia. Similarly, in 2008, Russia was accused of carrying out cyberattacks against Georgia during their war with each other.
How big are the Russia-sponsored threat groups?
According to a recent study, the Russia-sponsored threat groups are pretty large and pose a severe threat to Ukraine. The study found that these groups have an average of 10,000 members and are growing at an alarming rate. In addition, these groups are highly skilled and well-funded, making them a serious threat to any country they may target, which in this case is Ukraine.
In recent years, Ukraine has been the victim of several high-profile cyber-attacks. In December 2015, Ukraine’s power grid was hit by a cyberattack that left 225,000 people without electricity. The following year, Ukraine’s central bank was the target of an $81 million cyber heist. And in June 2017, a ransomware attack known as Petya struck Ukraine and spread to other countries, causing billions of dollars in damage.
These attacks are just the tip of the iceberg because the invitation could open doors for full-fledged and funded cyberattacks in the future. Russian cybercriminals have targeted Ukrainian government agencies and critical infrastructure on an ongoing basis since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. In addition to traditional hacking techniques, these attackers have also used so-called “watering hole” attacks to infect Ukrainian websites with malware. As a result, many Ukrainians now view cyberspace as a battlefield where their country is under constant attack.
The threat of cyberattacks is not limited to Ukraine. In April 2018, reports surfaced that Russia had attempted to hack into the U.S. energy grid. And earlier this year, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for their role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election via cyber means. Cyberspace is becoming an increasingly contested domain. As tensions continue to mount between Russia and the West, it’s only a matter of time before these attacks escalate into full-blown conflict.
Russia has a long history of using cyberattacks as a tool of warfare, and there is evidence that they have been targeting Ukrainian and European targets in recent months. Given the current escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine, there is a real possibility that we could see more severe cyberattacks in the near future. This could have devastating consequences for both countries, as well as for Europe as a whole.