Russia downed satellite internet in Ukraine -Western officials

  • United States: a Russian hack aimed at disrupting Ukrainian communications
  • UK: hack was ‘deliberate and malicious’
  • EU: Attack on Viasat caused “blind” blackouts
  • Russia regularly denies carrying out cyberattacks

NEWPORT, Wales, May 10 (Reuters) – Russia was behind a massive cyberattack on a satellite internet network that knocked tens of thousands of modems offline at the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Estonia and Europe. the Union said on Tuesday.

The digital assault on Viasat’s (VSAT.O) KA-SAT network in late February came just as Russian armor entered Ukraine. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the cyberattack was “intended to disrupt Ukrainian command and control during the invasion, and these actions had repercussions for other European countries”.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss called the satellite internet hacking ‘deliberate and malicious’ and the EU Council said it had caused ‘indiscriminate communication blackouts’ in Ukraine and across several EU Member States.

The Viasat outage remains the most publicly visible cyberattack since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, partly because the hack had an immediate impact on satellite internet users across Europe and because crippled modems often had to be replaced manually.

“After these modems were taken offline, it wasn’t like you unplug them, plug them back in, and restart and they come back,” the U.S. National Security Agency’s cybersecurity director told Reuters. Rob Joyce, on the sidelines of a cybersecurity conference on Tuesday.

“They were down and down; they had to go back to the factory to be exchanged.”

The precise consequences of the hack on the Ukrainian battlefield have not been made public, but government contracts reviewed by Reuters show that KA-SAT provided internet connectivity to Ukrainian military and police units. Read more

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The sabotage of the satellite modem caused “a huge loss of communications at the very beginning of the war”, Ukrainian cybersecurity chief Victor Zhora said in March. Read more

In a statement, Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection said Russia “is an aggressor country attacking Ukraine not only on our territory, but also in cyberspace.”

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately return a message seeking comment. Moscow regularly denies carrying out offensive cyber operations.

Viasat said in a statement that it “acknowledges” the announcement and will continue to work with government officials to investigate the hack. The company did not provide an update on a Viasat official’s comments to Reuters in late March that hackers were still trying to interfere with the company’s operations, albeit with limited effect. L2N2VW2XC

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The satellite modem takedown cyberattack remains the most visible hack of the war, but many others have taken place since, and not all of them have been made public. Read more

“It was the biggest single event,” Joyce said. “There were definitely new and new crafts, but there were multiple attacks.”

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Reporting by James Pearson. Written by Raphael Satter; Additional reporting by William James in London; Editing by William Maclean, Angus MacSwan, Bernadette Baum and David Gregorio

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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