On the night of 14 January, hackers attacked a number of Ukrainian government websites. The Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security (StratCom Centre of Ukraine) has found a Russian trace.

According to a study by StratCom Centre of Ukraine, initial findings suggest that the attack was carried out by Russia.

“Ukrainian Internet resources have not been attacked for the first or even second time since the start of the Russian military aggression. Some cyberattacks were so massive that they have become part of the world textbooks for cyber specialists. The purpose of such attacks is to destabilize the internal situation in the country and to sow chaos and frustration in society,” StratCom Centre of Ukraine explained.

The Center recorded the last mass attack after the Armed Forces of Ukraine used UAV strikes in the Joint Forces Operation area in Donbas — then hackers tried to hack the pages of Ukrainian media and public organizations.

“But there has not been such a mass attack on government agencies for a long time. We assume that the current one is related to Russia’s recent defeat in negotiations on Ukraine’s future cooperation with NATO. The hacking of Ukrainian state bodies could also be part of this psychological attack on Ukrainians,” the report said.

Evidence of Russian involvement

The chronology of the distribution of the news also points to a Russian trace. The information first appeared on social networks, then the first publications in the media were “plum tanks”. And then it was actively disseminated by Russian publications. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian media picked up the news at around 7 am.

On Ukrainian government websites posted an image with text in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish warning users that their personal data had allegedly become public and information on their computers were being destroyed.

The reference that this was “for the OUN UPA, for Galicia, for Polissya and for historical lands” allegedly indicated that “Polish” hackers were involved in the attack. However, the version that Poland was involved in the attacks is refuted by the fact that the Polish text was not written by a native speaker. This was confirmed to the Centre for Strategic Communications by Polish colleagues.

In total, hackers attacked about 70 websites of government agencies, which was one of the most powerful cyberattacks in recent years. The State Security Service of Ukraine and the State Security Service of Ukraine assured that no data leaks had occurred.

In December 2021, The New York Times reported that Russia was preparing a large-scale cyberattack on Ukrainian government agencies, the energy system and other strategic sectors of the economy.