White House Backs Ukraine, Accuses Russia of Cyberattack on Banks, Others

On Friday, the White House backed Ukraine saying it believes Russia was responsible for the cyberattacks that happened earlier this week.

White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology Anne Neuberger told reporters Friday the U.S. believes that Russia is responsible for the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in Ukraine, which affected two state-owned banks and the country's ministry of defense, The Hill reported.

"We believe that the Russian government is responsible for widescale cyberattacks on Ukrainian banks this week. We have technical information that links the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, as known GRU infrastructure was seen transmitting high volumes of communication to Ukraine-based IP addresses and domains," Neuberger told reporters according to CNN.

Ukraine reported the cyberattacks on Tuesday, and previously said Russia was responsible for large-scale cyberattacks on government websites that happened last month, which effected the country's ministry of foreign affairs and the education ministry. The allegations come as tensions remain high between the two countries over whether or not Russia will invade its neighboring country.

Neuberger said Russian cyberhackers have likely been targeting the Ukrainian government and military networks to collect intelligence and to lay the groundwork for carrying out a massive cyberattack on the ex-Soviet country, according to The Hill.

The Biden administration shared intelligence supporting the attribution with Ukraine. Neuberger added the U.S. worked quickly to identify the attacks and to call Russia out on its behavior since Russia has previously benefited from the U.S. delaying attributions, CNN reported.

"Russia likes to move in the shadows and counts on a long process of attribution so it can continue its malicious behavior against Ukraine in cyberspace, including pre-positioning for its potential invasion," Neuberger said.

The U.S. has been helping Ukraine prepare for the possibility of destructive or disruptive cyberattacks from Russia if they decided to invade the country, Neuberger said. The U.S. and the rest of the world have been on edge to see if Russia will invade Ukraine as they've moved over 100,000 troops to the Ukrainian border, while maintaining their denial for planning to attack.

During Tuesday's cyberattack, Ukraine's Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security in a statement accused Russia of being behind the cyberattack, which shut off access to the defense ministry's website.

"It is not ruled out that the aggressor used tactics of little dirty tricks because its aggressive plans are not working out on a large scale," they said Tuesday.

The banks that were effected in the attack included Oshadbank, which said some of their systems slowed down, and Privatbank, who reported issues with their app and payments.

Russia Cyber Attacks
The White House said Friday that Russia is responsible for the cyberattacks on the Ukrainian ministry of defense and state-owned banks. Win McNamee/Getty Images