The website of the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs was among those that disappeared.
But at one point it was possible to read a dramatic message about personal data from the hackers on this page:
«Ukrainians! All their personal data has been deleted and is impossible to recover. All information about you has become public. Be anxious and prepared for the worst, “the message said.
The message was written in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish.
Now Ukrainian security authorities say that “no personal data was leaked”, according to the news agency AFP.
At the moment it’s just coming a message that “this site is not available”.
The websites of the Ukrainian Ministry of Emergency Management, the Ministry of Education and the government also went down. Several of the services that were down will now be restored.
Pointing to Russia
– It is too early to draw conclusions about the data attack. But there are many examples of Russian attacks on Ukraine in the past.
This was stated by spokesman Oleh Nikolenko from the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to the news agency Reuters.
This week has been marked by intense talks between Russia, the United States and NATO over the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia is dissatisfied with the fact that their claim for a guarantee against NATO enlargement to the east and the removal of soldiers and military equipment in “new” member states was totally rejected.
Revenge for massacre of Poles during the war?
The message from the hackers contains references to events during World War II.
Ukrainian extreme nationalists massacred tens of thousands of Poles in Wolyn, or Vohynia, in what is today Western Ukraine.
The numbers vary, from around 20,000 to 100,000. But there were pure executions, often with agricultural implements such as axes, pitchforks or sickles.
– Here you have for your past, present and future. For Volyn, for OUN and UPA, for Galicia, for Polesje and for historic land areas, the report states.
OUN refers to the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, founded in 1929 in an area that was then part of Poland. Now it is located in Western Ukraine.
The Ukrainian rebel army, UPA, was the military part of the OUN. It was founded in 1942 and fought under the leadership of Stepan Banderas in practice on the German side during the war. Bandera hoped that Hitler would ensure independence for Ukraine.
UPA massacred both Poles and Jews during the war.
The historical references in today’s report do not have to stand in opposition to Russian hackers being behind it.
President Vladimir Putin has previously defended the annexation of the Crimean peninsula by rescuing the peninsula’s inhabitants from the new Ukrainian leaders, who he describes as «the ideological heirs of Bandera, Hitler’s aide during World War II».
January 1 this year marched hundreds of Ukrainian nationalists in the streets of Kyiv to mark Bandera’s birthday.
Preparation for hybrid warfare
– Such attacks can be part of a hybrid warfare. A pure cyber attack has little effect in the long run. The damage can be easily repaired. But if it is combined with a military operation, one can turn off communication just when it is most important.
This is what professor of cyber security at the University of Oslo, Audun Jøsang, tells NRK.
– It seems obvious that Russia is behind it. It’s just a matter of asking who might be interested in doing so, says Jøsang.
He believes that the attack can also be a demonstration to strengthen the negotiating position vis-à-vis NATO.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg condemned the cyber attack on Friday afternoon. He says in a statement that the defense alliance has for several years worked closely with Ukraine to improve the country’s cyber defense.
In the coming days, NATO and Ukraine will sign an agreement to strengthen cyber cooperation. It includes Ukrainian access to NATO’s malware sharing platform, it is stated in the statement from Stoltenberg.
The EU offers help
EU Foreign Minister Josep Borrell also condemned the attack on Ukraine.
When asked who he thinks is behind it, he does not answer directly, but the answer can be interpreted to mean that he also points to Russia.
– I can not accuse anyone, since I have no evidence. But we can imagine, Borrell said, according to Reuters.
He also promises that the EU will mobilize “all resources” to help Ukraine repel the computer attack.
Ukraine attacked before
This is not the first time Ukraine has been subjected to computer attacks. In December alone last year, government agencies were subjected to close to 60 computer attacks, according to the news website Correspondent.
In 2015, Russian hackers put parts of the power grid in western Ukraine out of action.
According to the US Department of Justice There were six hackers employed in unit 74455 of Russia’s military intelligence, GRU, who were behind the attack.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the hackers used several names of themselves, including “Sandworm Team”, “Telebots”, “Voodoo Bear” and “Iron Viking”.
In October 2020, the six named GRU officers were indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh, USA.
The attacks lasted for several months. They also targeted the Ukrainian Ministry of Finance and the country’s central bank.
Russian authorities have always denied being behind hacker attacks on Ukraine.