Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, Armed Forces, and two major banks were all impacted by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack this week as the country remains in a tense standoff with Russia.
The Ukrainian military tweeted about its website outage saying “an excessive number of requests per second was recorded” and that it would communicate via social media.
In a separate statement, the government’s Centre for Strategic Communications said Privatbank and Oschadbank were also suffering from outages it attributed to the “massive DDoS attack” targeting Ukrainian services.
“Privat[bank] assures that there is no threat to depositors' funds,” the government said.
“The cyberattack concerns only the Privat24 application. The rest of the financial transactions are performed normally.”
Ukraine is at the centre of global attention following threats of a Russian invasion through military buildup on its borders.
Russia is trying to push back against what it sees as Nato’s encroachment into its sphere of influence.
Coinciding with the DDoS attacks was a text message spam campaign telling people that local bank ATMs were malfunctioning.
Ukraine’s Cyber Police issued a statement about the text messages and said they didn’t involve phishing techniques popular among scammers but were instead “part of an information attack and do not correspond to reality”.
Ukrainian authorities did not attribute the DDoS attacks and spam text messaging campaign to Russia but did link to a document published by the Centre for Strategic Communications which directly references Russian hacking as an attempt “to destablise the internal situation in the country” and “sow chaos and despair in society”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday morning, as Ukraine was getting its Ministry of Defense website back online, that he was pulling back some troops from the border as he sought a diplomatic end to tensions.
“We intend to and will strive to reach agreement with our partners on the questions that we posed in order to solve them by taking a diplomatic path,” Putin said.
He is seeking promises that Nato would not allow Ukraine to join the alliance and is demanding Western European influence step away from former Soviet states.
Putin issued an ultimatum with Nato in the form of troop movements on the border with Ukraine, threatening a full-scale ground invasion the likes of which Europe hasn’t seen since the Second World War.
The Russian President met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz this week as part of efforts to find a diplomatic path through the crisis.
US President Joe Biden is not convinced the threat of war is yet over, saying on Wednesday he had “not yet verified” the withdrawal of Russian soldiers.
“Our analysts indicate that they remain very much in a threatening position,” Biden said.