A series of cyberattacks struck the websites of Ukrainian banks and defence 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 defence 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 Centre 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.
⚠️ Confirmed: Real-time network data show a loss of connectivity to #Ukraine's State Savings Bank, impacting ATM and banking services; disruptions also reported on Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces networks; incident comes amid heightened tensions with Russia 📉 pic.twitter.com/QMbPPpCzaV— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 15, 2022
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 Defence,” tweeted Buzzfeed reporter Christopher Miller on Tuesday. “ATMs & banking services interrupted. MOD and Armed Forces websites are down (picture below). Confirmed by gov’s Centre for Strategic Comms and Info Security of Ukraine.”
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.