On Tuesday, the European Union accused Russia of a cyberattack which disrupted an internet company’s services.
The European networks of the internet satellite company Viasat were under attack just as Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th. The satellite company reported that due to the attack tens of thousands of broadband customers had their internet connections interrupted throughout Europe.
Thousands of European wind turbines also faced disrupted services.
According to E.U.’s official statement:
“This cyberattack had a significant impact causing indiscriminate communication outages and disruptions across several public authorities, businesses and users in Ukraine, as well as affecting several EU Member States.”
The US and UK also released statements siding with the European Union. They alleged Russia is responsible for the recent series of cyberattacks on Ukraine. It included deploying malicious programs and defacing websites.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in a news release said,
“This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia against Ukraine which had significant consequences on ordinary people and businesses in Ukraine and across Europe.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also shared his thoughts on the incident by stating,
“Russia launched cyberattacks in late February against commercial satellite communications networks to disrupt Ukrainian command and control during the invasion, and those actions had spillover impacts into other European countries.”
According to Victor Zhora, a top Ukrainian cybersecurity official, previously shared with the reporters that the Ukrainian military depended upon Viasat ever since the war started. Due to the cyberattack, their communications have been hampered significantly.
Although cyberattacks on military targets are nothing new for countries who are at war. However, Western nations are concerned because cyberattacks may cause local conflicts if carried out recklessly. As a result, civilians may also become victims of these attacks.
Russian military intelligence is known for carrying out cyberattacks which have been destructive in nature. A recent example can be that of NotPetya which was deployed as a malicious, self-replicating code against Ukrainian government computer networks back in 2017. However, the said cyberattack went out of control pretty fast and locked up computers around the world.
Because of that incident, the United States sanctioned Russia in 2018.
Although the European Union has condemned individual state-affiliated hackers before, the statement on Tuesday was the first time, it blamed a specific nation for causing disruptions in cyberspace while citing its own intelligence.
Julia Schuetze, the junior director of cybersecurity policy at Stiftung Neue Verantwortung, a Berlin think tank, said that the statement should serve as a forewarning to Russia for further sanctions upon these hackers.
She specifically said that the Russian hack caused “significant damage” which is basically key language for issuing sanctions as a result of a cyberattack.
Whether Russia pays for the consequences of the cyberattack or not remains to be seen. For now, it continues to overtake Ukraine by attacking through its armies and attempts to use cyberattacks to its defence. The Russia-Ukraine conflict doesn’t seem to end any time soon with the way its going so far.