Widespread Outages in Wake of Cyberattack
Ukraine’s civilian population is enduring the repercussions of a massive cyberattack that crippled cellular and internet services for a second consecutive day. The attack, which occurred on Tuesday, was directed at Kyivstar, Ukraine’s leading mobile phone and Internet provider. The cyber strike left 24.3 million mobile users and over 1.1 million home internet subscribers in disarray.
Russian-Linked Groups Claim Responsibility
Two hacker collectives, Killnet and Solntsepek, both with alleged ties to the Russian government, have admitted to orchestrating the cyber assault. Killnet revealed on Telegram that their targets included Ukrainian mobile operators and certain banks. Solntsepek, on the other hand, bragged about the extensive damage inflicted, claiming to have destroyed a staggering number of computers, servers, and cloud storage systems belonging to Kyivstar.
Lviv’s Essential Services Disrupted
The city of Lviv witnessed severe disruptions in critical services. For instance, street lights, which rely on internet-driven power switches, had to be manually disconnected post-sunrise. The outage severely hampered businesses across Ukraine, disrupting credit card operations and rendering many ATMs inoperative.
Impact on Security and Emergency Systems
The cyberattack also compromised critical safety systems, including air alert systems for missile attacks. This led authorities to activate backup alarm systems to maintain public safety.
Kyivstar CEO Comments on the Severity
Oleksandr Komarov, the CEO of Kyivstar, characterized the cyberattack as unprecedented, highlighting its significance as one of the gravest assaults on a civilian telecommunication provider amidst the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. Komarov, in a televised statement, expressed that restoring all additional services might take several weeks.
The Attack’s Origins and Notorious Perpetrators
According to a report by the New Voice of Ukraine, the attack was traced back to the infiltration of an internal employee account. Solntsepek, associated with the infamous “Sandworm” hacking group linked to Russia’s GRU military unit, has a notorious history of destructive cyberattacks, including the infamous NotPetya worm, which caused approximately $10 billion in global damages.
A Call for Strengthened Cyber Defenses
This latest incident is a stark reminder of the escalating cyber threats Ukraine faces, underscoring the urgent need for robust and immediate measures to protect the nation’s digital infrastructure.