Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, who just days earlier had been in Brussels in talks with a Russian delegation asking for an end to cooperation with Ukraine, reacted to the cyber attack by saying that NATO would step up coordination with Kiev on cyber defense issues.
“I strongly condemn the cyberattacks on the Ukrainian government,” Mr. Stoltenberg said in a statementadding: “NATO and Ukraine will intensify cyber cooperation and we will continue our strong political and practical support.” The NATO representative specified that in the coming days, the alliance will sign an agreement providing Ukraine with access to the NATO information exchange system to combat malware.
Understanding Escalating Tensions Around Ukraine
Senior European Union diplomat Josep Borrell told a meeting of European foreign ministers on Friday that the bloc will mobilize cyber response teams and help Ukraine with cyber defence.
Often times, unraveling the digital threads of such cyber operations can take days or weeks, which is one of the attractive aspects of their use in modern conflicts. Sophisticated cybertools were used in the standoff between Israel and Iran, and the United States accused Russia of using hacker attacks to influence the 2016 United States election on behalf of Donald Trump.
Ukraine has long been viewed as a testing ground for Russian online operations, a free-fire zone for cyber weapons in a country already engaged in a real-world shootout with Russian-backed separatists in two eastern provinces. The US government has linked some of the most radical cyberattacks of the past decade to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
The tactics, which were first seen in Ukraine, later appeared in other places as well. A Russian military spy strain called X-Agent or Sofacy, which Ukrainian cyber experts say was used to hack Ukraine’s Central Election Commission during the 2014 presidential election, for example, was later found on a server of the Democratic National Committee in the United States. after the election hacks in 2016
Other types of malware such as BlackEnergy, Industroyer and KillDisk, designed to sabotage computers used to control production processes, shut down electrical substations in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016, causing power outages, including in Kiev.