Ukraine Government Websites Hit With Cyberattack, Days After Banks Impacted

Several Ukrainian government websites were targeted in another cyberattack Wednesday.

The websites for the Verkhovna Rada—the Ukrainian parliament—as well as the Cabinet of Ministers and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were not working, Ukrainian news outlets Klymenko Time and RBC reported. NetBlocks added that the websites for the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Security Service of Ukraine were also down, likely due to a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

It comes just a week after Ukraine's defense ministry and two local banks were targets of a cyberattack, showing a pattern that experts said are likely a precursor to a Russian invasion.

A DDoS attack involves disrupting traffic to a website by overwhelming it with bots, according to web security company Cloudflare's website.

"From a high level, a DDoS attack is like an unexpected traffic jam clogging up the highway, preventing regular traffic from arriving at its destination," the site says.

The February 15 cyberattack was also likely a DDoS attack, targeting the websites for the defense ministry and banks Oshadbank and Privatbank. A U.S. cybersecurity official said last week that her department has "technical information" linking the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate to the attacks.

In January, several Ukrainian government websites were targeted in cyberattacks. A message on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website read: "Ukrainians! ... All information about you has become public. Be afraid and expect worse. It's your past, present and future," leading many to believe Russia was behind them.

The European Union (EU) will activate its Cyber Rapid Response Team to help Ukraine defend against cyberattacks, Politico reported Monday. The team includes experts from the EU countries of Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania. It will be the first time the team is deployed.

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine "presents perhaps the most acute cyber risk U.S. and western corporations have ever faced," according to the Harvard Business Review, because a Russian invasion would lead to sanctions from other countries, which Russia views as "economic warfare," to which it would respond "asymmetrically" with cyberattacks. Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already responded to U.S. sanctions by saying they won't affect its "determination to firmly defend our interests."

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency said in a release that while there are no current known cyber threats outside of Ukraine, it encourages awareness of potential threats.

"The Russian government understands that disabling or destroying critical infrastructure—including power and communications—can augment pressure on a country's government, military and population and accelerate their acceding to Russian objectives," it said.

Update 2/23/22, 11:47 a.m. ET: This story was updated with additional information.

Ukraine flag
Ukrainian government websites have been targeted in another cyberattack. Stock Image/Getty Images