The government of Ukraine has issued an advisory stating that Putin’s Moscow plans to carry out a series of massive cyberattacks that would cripple some critical infrastructure in Ukraine and its allies.
“By the cyberattacks, the enemy will try to increase the effect of missile strikes on electricity supply facilities, primarily in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine,” an advisory warned. “The occupying command is convinced that this will slow down the offensive operations of the Ukrainian Defence Forces,” the advisory stated.
The advisory cited two cyberattacks the Russian government allegedly carried out. The first occurred in 2015, and the second almost one year later. These attacks overloaded and tripped the Ukrainian power grid, leaving Ukrainians without power during one of the year’s coldest months. The advisory claims these attacks were seen as a proof-of-concept and test ground of sorts for disrupting Ukraine’s power supply.
Both of these hacks were carried out by Kremlin-backed hackers. The attackers used a repurposed version of Malware called BlackEnergy3 to break into the corporate networks of Ukrainian power companies and then further encroach into the supervisory control and data acquisition systems the companies used to generate and transmit electricity.
In 2016, the attacks were more sophisticated, using a completely new piece of Malware developed from scratch. The Malware, which was given the names Industroyer and Crash Override, was explicitly designed for hacking electric grid systems.
Ukraine’s advisory comes two weeks after their forces recaptured vast territories in Kharkiv and other cities under Russian control for months. Russian President Vladimir Putin last week called for the mobilization of 3,00,000 Russian citizens to bolster the country’s military invasion of Ukraine.
Most European countries depend on Russia for oil and other forms of energy. With winter approaching and Russia seemingly on the back, Ukrainian officials believe that Russian hackers backed by the state will increase the number of attacks on power grids and internet-based communication services by increasing the number of DDoS or distributed denial-of-service attacks.
Besides an attack on electrical grids, Ukraine’s advisory also warned of other forms of disruptions the country expected Russia to ramp up.
“The Kremlin also intends to increase the intensity of DDoS attacks on the critical infrastructure of Ukraine’s closest allies, primarily Poland and the Baltic states,” the advisory stated.