Hacker Attack: Microsoft Fears Greater Damage After Cyber Attack On Ukraine

According to Microsoft, the attack on Ukrainian government websites could be more serious than previously thought. Ukraine allegedly has evidence of Russian involvement.

According to the US company Microsoft, the cyber attack on the Ukrainian government's websites and computer systems could have caused more damage and affect more organizations than initially assumed.

Microsoft announced that the analysis of the malware was not yet complete. However, the attackers were probably concerned with rendering the government's digital infrastructure unusable.

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The malware is similar to so-called ransomware, which hackers use to block their victims' computer systems and only release them again for a ransom. However, the software used in the attack on the Ukrainian government "does not contain a ransom-collection mechanism." Instead, it is designed to cause damage and "make the target devices inoperable," Microsoft said.

According to the information, Microsoft first detected the malware on Thursday. The information from the US company suggests that the attack on government websites, which were temporarily unavailable, was a distraction to deploy the malware. Ukrainian security official Serhiy Demedyuk had previously pointed out that the attack was a cover for a malicious attack.

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The US group also announced that it had not yet identified the attackers. However, it is possible that the number of affected organizations is larger than previously assumed: "Our investigation teams have identified the malware on dozens of affected systems, and this number could increase as our investigation continues." According to the information, government institutions, non-profit and IT organizations are affected by the malware.

Russia denies allegations

At the same time, Microsoft made it clear that an attacker acting on behalf of a state was suspected to be behind the incident. Previous cyber attacks in Ukraine are seen by Western IT experts and authorities as the work of Russian hackers, some with links to secret services. 

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According to the Ukrainian government, it now has evidence that Russia was involved in the attack. "All the evidence points to Russia being behind the cyber attack," Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation said in a statement.

Previously, Ukraine had announced that there were "indications" of a possible involvement of Russian secret services. Russia rejected the allegations that there was no evidence. "The Ukrainians blame everything on Russia, even the bad weather in their country," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.

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The cyber attack on Friday night is part of the heightened tensions between Russia and the West in the Ukraine conflict. With a massive Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine, there are fears Moscow could attack the neighboring country. Several diplomatic crisis talks in the past few days were intended to ease tensions, but failed to bring about a breakthrough.

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