Washington (AFP) – The White House on Friday blamed Russia for this week’s cyber attacks on Ukraine’s defense ministry and major banks and warned of the potential for more significant disruptions in the coming days.
Anne Neuberger, deputy national security adviser to the Biden administration for electronic and emerging technologies, said the United States quickly linked Tuesday’s attacks to Russian military intelligence officers.
Britain joined the United States in blaming the military intelligence agency, the GRU, for the distributed denial-of-service attacks that unfolded as tensions rose between Russia and Ukraine.
Neuberger said the attacks, which took government websites and some major banks offline for much of the day, had a “limited effect” because Ukrainian officials were able to quickly restart their systems.
But she said the Russians could also lay the groundwork for more subversive activities that could accompany the invasion of Ukraine.
“We anticipate that if Russia decides to proceed with a further invasion of Ukraine, we may see further destabilizing or destructive cyber activity, and we are working closely with allies and partners to ensure that we are prepared to call this behavior a response,” Neuberger said.
She said the US publicly blamed the Kremlin for the need to “recall the behavior quickly”.
“The global community must be prepared to shine a light on malicious cyber activity and hold actors accountable for any and all disruptive or destructive cyber activity,” Neuberger said.
The British Foreign Office said the attack “demonstrated the continuing disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty. This activity is another example of Russian aggressive actions against Ukraine.”
Neuberger said there was no intelligence to suggest the United States would be targeted by a cyber attack, but that this remains a concern, given that the banking system is not as “cyber-resilient” as it should be.
Ukrainian officials described Tuesday’s denial of service as the worst in the country’s history. Roland Dobbins, chief DDoS engineer at cybersecurity firm Netscout, said that while they certainly disrupted online banking, hampered some communications between governments and were clearly intended to cause panic, they weren’t particularly serious by global standards or Historic.
“Most DDoS attacks succeed due to a lack of preparedness on the part of the defenders,” Dobbins said, adding that most commercial mitigation services designed to counter such attacks would likely be able to fend off Tuesday’s attacks.
Frank Bajak contributed to Boston.
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