Wed, 18 May 2022

Kiev claims a ?cyber espionage? group backed by Belarus? intelligence hacked Ukrainian websites

Friday's massive cyberattack targeting Ukrainian government agencies was carried out by a group linked to Belarusian intelligence services, a senior Kiev security official said in a statement on Saturday.

"We believe preliminarily that the group UNC1151 may be involved in this attack," the Deputy Secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defense Council, Sergey Demedyuk, said in a written comment to Reuters.

The "cyber-espionage group" in question is said to be "affiliated with the special services of the Republic of Belarus," according to the official.

The attack on the government's websites "was just a cover for more destructive actions" which took place "behind the scenes," Demedyuk said. He did not offer any further details, only suggesting that the "consequences" of the attack will be felt "in the near future."

According to Demedyuk, UNC1151 has had a "track record" of targeting numerous countries. He claimed that the malicious software used in the attack was "very similar" to the one used by ATP-29 - the group often referred to as the "Cozy Bear." ATP-29, along with "Fancy Bear" hackers, has been credited with compromising the Democratic National Committee's computers ahead of the 2016 US presidential election in the American media reports.

Demedyuk added that the "cyber espionage" tactics of the group have been "associated with the Russian special services (Foreign Intelligence Service of the Russian Federation)" and that it "resorts to recruiting or undercover work of its insiders in the right company."

Among the government agencies, said to be targeted by the hackers on Friday, were the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, as well as the ministries of Agriculture, Education, Energy and Sports. A message in Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish which appeared on the agencies' websites, seemingly warned Ukrainians that all their personal information had "become public," and urged them to "be afraid and expect the worst."

Notably, Demedyuk appears to be the first Ukrainian official who's publicly suggested that the attack was not carried out by a Russian group. Another senior Ukrainian official, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, Alexey Danilov, has previously alleged in an interview with Sky News he was "99.9% sure" Moscow was behind the hack.


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