Sep 27, 2022 - Technology

Ukraine warns allies about Russian cyberattacks

Illustration of a laptop with a laser beam extending from the camera, resembling a gun's laser sight

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Ukraine's military intelligence agency warned Monday that Russia could soon ramp up its cyberattacks against both Ukraine and its allies.

Why it matters: U.S. officials have long warned that Russia's war in Ukraine could lead to either direct assaults on U.S. and other Ukrainian allies' critical infrastructure or a spillover attack that prompts worldwide chaos.

Details: The Defense Intelligence of Ukraine said it expects the Kremlin to "carry out massive cyberattacks" against critical infrastructure facilities in Ukraine and allied countries.

  • These cyberattacks will be paired with increased "missile strikes on electricity supply facilities, primarily in the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine," the agency said.
  • Russia will also increase the intensity of the distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks — which overwhelm a site with bot traffic to make it inaccessible — against organizations in Poland, the Baltic states and other allied countries.
  • A spokesperson did not respond to questions about the intelligence that prompted this warning or when the attacks are expected.

Between the lines: Vague advisories like these usually indicate that intelligence agencies have seen new intel, even if they can't say what that is.

The big picture: Russian President Vladimir Putin mobilized an additional 300,000 reserve soldiers to fight in Ukraine last week.

  • Victor Zhora, a senior Ukrainian cyber official, expressed concern that the mobilization could lead to escalated cyber aggression.

What they're saying: "With a few exceptions, we have not seen the scaled, serious attacks we expected even before the war began," says John Hultquist, vice president of intelligence analysis at Mandiant. "There is still significant room for Russia to escalate, especially with regard to Ukraine’s allies."

  • A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council tells Axios that it will coordinate closely with NATO allies and the private sector to strengthen their ability to fight Russian attacks. “We’ve long said this is the Russian playbook," the spokesperson says.

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