The U.S., UK, the EU, and other allies have strongly condemned a cyberattack conducted by Russia in February targeting Viasat’s KA-SAT satellites that provide broadband connection to people in Ukraine and other European countries. The attack occurred an hour before Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24th, and caused widespread internet outage.
International military and intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia launched the satellite cyberattack to compromise Ukraine’s military operations.
The West Confirms Earlier Suspicions
Statements from Western officials this week confirmed suspicions that Russia was behind February’s cyberattack that targeted the Ukrainian military. An earlier report by Microsoft revealed that Russia’s cyberattacks are aligned with its kinetic military operations.
“This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia against Ukraine which had significant consequences on ordinary people and businesses in Ukraine and across Europe,” the UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.
“Russia launched cyberattacks in late February against commercial satellite communications networks to disrupt Ukrainian command and control during the invasion,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We recognize international governments have identified who they believe to be responsible for the cyberattack on the KA-SAT network,” American satellite services provider Viasat Inc., which is now under CISA’s protection, told the BBC.
Cyber-Tension Has Been Building for a While
Tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been building for some time. In January, Russia conducted cyberattacks targeting Ukrainian websites while Russian troops were stationed at Ukraine’s borders.
In March, security experts warned about the breakout of a hybrid war where cyber-kinetic attacks would be used to target cyber-physical systems. Also, in March, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned British firms about potential cyberattacks, and Japan strengthened its national cyber resilience.
Subsequently, the United States’ Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) sent out a security alert about possible global cyberattacks on SATCOM environments stemming from the crisis.
That same month, Ukraine’s Ukrtelecom was crippled by a cyberattack, the worst cyber event since the start of the invasion.
Ongoing Cyberattacks Could Spill Over
Ongoing cyberattacks targeting Ukraine could easily spill over globally, and put Europe’s citizens at risk, the EU Council said in a statement.
“The European Union, working closely with its partners, is considering further steps to prevent, discourage, deter and respond to such malicious behaviour in cyberspace,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, tech mogul Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday that his Starlink satellite network has resisted cyberattacks from Russia so far, “but they’re ramping up their efforts,” he added.