Kyiv has announced a fresh round of cyber attacks against government websites and banks, raising concerns that Russia was mounting an online offensive just hours after the Kremlin said it would partially pullback some 130,000 troops along Ukraine’s borders.
The Ukrainian government said in a statement on Tuesday that two state-owned banks, PrivatBank and Oschadbank, had been targeted by “massive” denial of service attacks and other failures which interrupted banking services.
“The websites of the ministry of defence and the armed forces of Ukraine were also attacked,” the government’s centre of strategic communications said. Although it did not specifically name Russia, it added: “The aggressor has resorted to tactics of small and large mischief.”
At the White House, a spokesperson for the National Security Council said the US was “aware of the reports of denial of service incidents” and had contacted Ukrainian counterparts to “offer support in the investigation and response”.
However, the NSC said it did not have any “further information to share at this time” and did not offer any comment on the possible source of the attack.
Although neither the US or Ukraine formally accused Russia, Serhiy Demediuk, deputy head of Ukraine’s national security council, told the FT that Kyiv believed the attack was a “continuation of full-scale Russian hybrid aggression aimed at destabilising the situation in Ukraine and undermining our Euro-Atlantic integration.”
A similar cyber attack last month targeted government websites. Ukrainian officials have warned that any military invasion by Russia could be preceded by cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns and other provocations intended to destabilise and weaken the country.
A senior bank official in Ukraine told FT that a “lot of banks” have been affected, though the official added that by Tuesday evening most were able to counter the attacks and get operations back online.
Ukraine’s cyber police said in a statement that they were investigating these incidents as “an element of information warfare.”