Cyber ​​attacks between Russia and Ukraine .. Will the third world war take place electronically?

Cyber ​​warfare is part of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, so what are the tools of both countries? And why have we not witnessed a devastating cyber attack since the beginning of the Russian military operation in Ukraine?

  • Cyber ​​attacks
    Cyber ​​attacks between Russia and Ukraine

A third electronic war. This is what external observers expected to happen with the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, as the two countries have extensive experience that has enabled them to create a “hybrid war” with technological tools.

Russia and Ukraine have exchanged warnings of cyber-attacks that could target the data of major institutions in the two countries. .

As for Ukraine, it mobilizes not only its forces but also the country’s IT experts. According to Reuters, the government in Kiev was looking for volunteers who would be able to repel attacks by Russian hackers and prepare special attacks on important Russian IT infrastructure.

Ukrainian declaration of cyber war

Ukraine has received outside help from the hacker group “Anonymous”, which has declared digital war against the Kremlin. Days after the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, some government websites in Russia were shut down, and “Anonymous” crackers were believed to be behind this, while the “rt” channel was subjected to electronic attacks.

The involvement of “Anonymous” hackers in the cyber war against Russia was proven, after they published a tweet on “Twitter” in which they officially declared war on Russia, and added the “Ukraine” hashtag to all their posts.

With the launch of the Russian military operation, Mikhailo Fedorov, First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, called for the creation of the Ukrainian cyber army, and its goal is to make a strong contribution to the cyber war against Russia, and ask for help from technology experts from different parts of the world.

The Minister of Digital Transformation has published a list of 31 websites of Russian business and government organizations to be targeted, including the website of the Russian energy giant Gazprom, a number of Russian banks and government websites, and the official website of the Kremlin. The Kremlin’s official website and the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin have already been targeted, disrupting access to it.

Despite the Ukrainian government’s involvement in a “cyber gang war”, experts have warned that this process could backfire, as these hackers could inadvertently destroy unintended targets or cause more capable Russian hackers to engage in this electronic conflict .

Denis Kenji Kiebker, professor of cyber security law at the University of Bremen, Germany, warned against such attacks, saying it “carries the risk of escalation”, adding that most of those involved in “cyber-guerrilla warfare” not realizing that they are transgressing. the law.

Ukraine’s tools in electronic warfare against Russia

And cfr.org talked about the most prominent systems and applications used by Russia and Ukraine in their cyber attacks:

“Anonymous”

Anonymous, a group of burglary activists, declared war on Russia on March 1, claiming that they had taken down websites run by Russian state-run media, while allegedly hacking several major Russian broadcasters, including: The state-run TV channels Russia 24, Channel 1 and Moscow 24, the broadcasting services Wink and Ivi, and the systems of the Russian agency responsible for media monitoring, the group leaked more than 360 000 files.

“RURansom Wiper”

This system appeared in hacking by pro-Ukrainian experts on the first of March this year, and it is a system that encrypts and deletes information with access, without leaving the opportunity for payment to the target website.

This malware scans target website systems for a Russian “IP” address. The danger is that the creators are constantly improving it, which means that future releases may become stronger over time.

Russia’s role in cyber warfare

Russia is known for having one of the world’s most technologically advanced armies, characterized by advanced intelligence capabilities, in addition to its vast capabilities in electronic, information and cyber warfare.

With the start of the military operation in Ukraine, Russia became aware that cyber attacks could pose a threat to the database of its institutions and companies. Therefore, the Russian National Coordinating Center for Computer Incidents (NCCC) has recommended specialists of Russian organizations to increase their vigilance when monitoring malicious activities and to organize the priority processing of information on anomalies, and warns that any failure to “CII” facilities operation for an unknown reason must first be taken into account Everything is the result of a cyber attack.

In response to Ukraine’s cyber attacks, Russia launched similar attacks, at a time when the Ukrainian authorities had confirmed that the websites of the country’s government, parliament and major banks had been subjected to a large-scale cyber attack.

Russia’s tools in its electronic war against Ukraine

DDoS “

Russia has launched a series of DDoS attacks on Ukrainian websites targeting banking and defense websites, as internet servers are subject to certain restrictions in the requests that can be served simultaneously.

In addition to server capacity constraints, the channel connecting the server to the internet will also have limited capacity. When the number of requests exceeds the capacity limits of any component of the infrastructure, the service level in the server is likely to be reduced or deactivated.

UNC1151

Ukrainian government officials suspect UNC1151 of a cyber attack targeting more than 70 government websites, To the Ukrainians behind this system.

Russia has denied using hackers to attack its opponents.

“Viasat interruption”

The satellite internet service provider Viasat was hit by a cyber attack in February that caused widespread communication disruptions across Ukraine, and the company responsible for the service provider was unable to restore service to the affected areas of the country about 3 weeks after the attack.

Ukrainian officials said the attack caused a “significant loss of communication”, and the National Security Agency (NSA) announced an investigation into the burglary.

“DoubleZero”

Ukraine’s CERT-UA has issued a warning to a new system called “DoubleZero”, which is used to target Ukrainian entities. Its activity was first noticed on March 17, 2022 when attackers used phishing attacks to deliver malware that replaced content and deleted Windows registry before shutting down the compromised system.

Nobody wants a “third world cyber war”

External observers expected cyberattacks to play a major role in the crisis in Ukraine. Despite Russia’s strong cyber capabilities, there was little visible action against Ukrainian regimes through cyber attacks. According to analysts, there are several reasons why Russia did not launch large-scale cyberattacks, including the difficulty of planning and carrying out massive cyberattacks in a short time frame.

“It would be reckless to completely rule out devastating attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure,” said former national security agency general counsel Glenn S. Gerstle.

Although these attacks were “large and unprecedented,” according to Aaron Turner of California-based cybersecurity firm Vectra, they were “not yet catastrophic,” referring to “there is no international force yet that wants to be the stone-thrower.” a third global electronic war.

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