Russia responsible for hacking satellite causing chaos across Europe Business

Russia was behind a cyberattack that wreaked havoc across Europe hours before invading Ukraine, British officials have confirmed.

Kremlin cyber spies hacked into a Viasat communications satellite intending to target the Ukrainian military, but also took thousands of users offline, including a wind farm in Germany.

The attack was the first digital salvo launched by Russia and raised fears of an all-out online war.

Information pointing to Russian agents was previously published by satellite operator Viasat. The Foreign Ministry said the Kremlin’s military intelligence office, the GRU, was behind the attack.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, said: “This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious Russian attack on Ukraine that has had a significant impact on ordinary citizens and businesses in Ukraine. and all over Europe”.

Viktor Zhora, a senior official with Ukraine’s cybersecurity agency, said immediately after the hack that it was “a huge loss of communication at the very beginning of the war”.

The European Union has joined Ms Truss in condemning Russia for the hack, which affected member states in eastern Europe and shut down 5,800 German wind turbines operated by power company Enercon.

The attack consisted of a malicious software update sent by Russian military intelligence to customer terminals of Viasat’s KA-SAT satellite.

Tens of thousands of terminals have been damaged by Russian efforts to force the satellite offline, the Foreign Ministry said. It is understood that the terminals must be returned to Viasat to be reprogrammed for normal use.

Viasat’s satellite service is used by businesses for general Internet connectivity and for monitoring industrial systems connected to the Internet.

Cybersecurity firm SentinelOne said in a March analysis that 5,800 turbines in Germany had all gone offline at the same time in late February, the first indication that something was wrong.

The UK has sanctioned the GRU after their appalling actions in Salisbury.

Previous UK sanctions froze around £940bn in bank assets and £117bn in personal net worth of oligarchs and their family members, who the government says fund and support Putin’s war machine .

Viasat did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the start of the invasion, the Viasat hack was seen by experts as a warning shot of what might come next. Yet Russia’s cyber warfare capabilities have more or less culminated in hacking, also sparking a renewed wave of vigilance among Western and Ukrainian organizations.

Another Russian hack in April, intended to take down part of Ukraine’s power grid with a malicious software ‘bomb’, was detected and defused with help from Microsoft and Slovak cybersecurity firm Eset, among others. Mr Zhora said: “It looks like we were extremely lucky to respond to this in a timely manner.”

Since that attempt, Russian cyber aggression has declined to a background level of activity, with continued attempts to hack the email inboxes and social media profiles of Ukrainian officials.

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This notice was published: 2022-05-10 21:30:00

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