White House and UK Gov attribute DDoS attacks on Ukraine to Russia’s GRU

Pierluigi Paganini February 19, 2022

The White House has linked the recent DDoS attacks against Ukraine ‘s banks and defense agencies to Russia’s GRU.

The White House has linked the recent DDoS attacks that took offline the sites of banks and defense agencies of Ukraine to Russia’s Main Directorate of the General Staff of the Armed Forces (aka GRU).

This week, the Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces of Ukraine and state-owned banks, Privatbank (Ukraine’s largest bank) and Oschadbank were hit by Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. The website of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense has been taken down by the wave of DDoS attacks.

“The US government believes that Russian cyber actors likely have targeted the Ukrainian government, including military and critical infrastructure networks, to collect intelligence and preposition to conduct disruptive cyber activities,” said Anne Neuberger, the Biden administration’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies.

“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 pointed out that the attacks are part of a broad strategy that aims at assisting destructive attacks in preparation for a military attack and consequent invasion.

“Russia likes to move in the shadows and counts on a long process of attribution. In light of that, we’re moving quickly to attribute the DDoS attacks,” Neuberger added.

“We do expect that should Russia decide to proceed with a further invasion of Ukraine, we may see further destabilizing or destructive cyber activity, and we’ve been working closely with allies and partners to ensure we’re prepared to call out that behavior and respond,” said Neuberger. “The global community must be prepared to shine a light on malicious cyber activity and hold actors accountable for any and all disruptive or destructive cyber activity,”

“And, as the President said earlier this week, if Russia attacks the United States or allies through asymmetric activities like disruptive cyberattacks against our companies or critical infrastructure, we are prepared to respond,” Neuberger continued.

The UK government also linked the DDoS attacks to Russian GRU.

“The UK Government judges that the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) were involved in this week’s distributed denial of service attacks against the financial sector in Ukraine,” a Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office spokesperson said. “The attack showed a continued disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty. This activity is yet another example of Russia’s aggressive acts against Ukraine.””

Ukraine’s SBU intelligence agency also attributed the DDoS attacks to Russia, but Moscow also denied any accusation.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) today revealed the country is the target of an ongoing “wave of hybrid warfare” conducted by Russia-linked malicious actors. Threat actors aim at destabilizing the social contest in the country and instilling fear and untrust in the country’s government.

The SSU said the campaign is linked to Russian intelligence agencies that are spreading disinformation through social networks and other media.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Ukraine)

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