Ukrainian officials and media say a number of government websites in Ukraine were down after a massive hacking attack
While it’s not immediately clear who was behind the attacks, they come amid heightened tensions with Russia and after talks between Moscow and the West failed to yield any significant progress this week.
“Following a massive hacking attack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily unavailable. Our specialists are already working on restoring the functioning of computer systems,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook on Friday.
Nikolenko told The Associated Press it was too early to say who might have been behind the attacks. “It is too early to draw conclusions as the investigation is ongoing, but there is a long record of Russian cyberattacks against Ukraine in the past,” he said.
Moscow had previously denied any involvement in cyberattacks against Ukraine.
The websites of the country’s Cabinet, seven ministries, the Treasury, the National Emergency Service and the website of state services, where electronic passports and vaccination certificates of Ukrainians are stored, were not available Friday following the hack.
The websites contained a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish, indicating that Ukrainians’ personal data had been leaked into the public domain. “Be afraid and expect the worst. This is for your past, your present and your future,” the post read in part.
Ukraine’s State Service for Communication and Information Protection said that no personal data had been leaked.
The United States estimates that Russia has massed around 100,000 troops near Ukraine, a buildup that has fueled fears of an invasion. Moscow says it has no intention of attacking and rejects Washington’s request to withdraw its forces, saying it has the right to deploy them wherever needed.
The Kremlin demanded security guarantees from the West preventing NATO’s eastward expansion.
Last month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO refuse membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and cancel the alliance’s military deployments in central and eastern Europe. Washington and its allies declined to provide such promises, but said they were ready for the talks.
High-stakes talks this week between Moscow and the United States, followed by a meeting of Russian and NATO representatives and a meeting at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, will not did not make it possible to move forward immediately.
The European Union’s foreign policy chief said Friday that the 27-nation bloc is ready to mobilize all its resources to provide technical assistance to Ukraine and help it improve its ability to deal with cyberattacks.
Speaking at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in the French port city of Brest, Josep Borrell said the EU would mobilize its rapid response teams online. Borrell added that he would ask member countries to allow Ukraine to benefit from anti-cyberattack resources under the EU’s permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), even if the country is not a member of the EU. ‘union.
“We will mobilize all our resources to help Ukraine deal with these cyberattacks,” Borrell said. “Unfortunately, we expected this to happen.”
Asked who might be behind the attack, Borrell replied: “I can’t point anyone out because I don’t have any evidence, but one can imagine.”
Samuel Petrequin in Brussels and Dasha Litvinova in Moscow contributed to this report.