Ukraine faces more cyberattacks amid Russian invasion fears

It's not clear if the attacks are preludes to war.

A soldier of the Honour Guard stands in front of the Defence Ministry and General Staff headquarters during a ceremony in tribute to fallen defenders of Ukraine in Kyiv, Ukraine January 28, 2022. (REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko)

Ukraine is grappling with more cyberattacks as fears of an imminent Russian invasion reach their climax. Netblocks and Gizmodo report Ukraine's defense ministry and two state-owned banks, Oshchadbank and Privatbank, have suffered denial-of-service attacks flooding their sites with traffic. The country's armed forces website also appears to have suffered an attack. BuzzFeed's Christopher Miller described consequences for many Ukranians, including difficulties using some ATMs and other banking services.

The attacks weren't directly attributed to Russia, but they came a month after Ukraine blamed its neighbor for a campaign that played havoc with dozens of government websites. The perpetrators used purely destructive malware disguised as ransomware to inflict significant damage. Russia has previously been accused of relying on cyberwarfare to disrupt and influence political rivals like the European Union and the US, although it has repeatedly denied involvement.

The concern, as you might imagine, is that Russia might be using cyberattacks like these to cause havoc ahead of an invasion the US claimed could happen as soon as tomorrow (February 16th). In theory, it might be more difficult for Ukraine to mount an effective response. The January attacks came and went without military action, however, and these latest incidents wouldn't do much to thwart the Ukrainian military or its allies. If Russia is involved, the disruptions might represent pressure tactics to extract concessions, such as a promise not to join NATO.