Microsoft fears greater damage after cyberattack on Ukraine

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Mon 17th Jan, 2022

The massive cyberattack on Ukrainian government websites may have caused greater damage and affected more organizations than initially thought, according to the US company Microsoft. Microsoft said on Sunday that the analysis of the malware had not yet been completed. However, the attackers probably wanted to render the government's digital infrastructure unusable.

The malware resembles so-called ransomware, which hackers use to block their victims' computer systems and only release them again in exchange for a ransom. However, the software used in the attack on the Ukrainian government "does not contain a mechanism to collect a ransom". Instead, it was designed to cause damage and "render target devices inoperable," Microsoft said.

The U.S. company went on to say that it had not yet identified the attackers. However, it said it was possible that the number of affected organizations was larger than previously thought: "Our investigation teams have identified the malware on dozens of affected systems, and that number could grow as our investigation continues."

Kiev, meanwhile, said Sunday it has "evidence" of Russian involvement in the attack. "All evidence points to Russia being behind the cyberattack," Ukraine's Ministry of Digital Transformation said.

Earlier, Kiev had said there were "indications" of possible involvement of Russian intelligence services. Moscow rejected the accusations, saying there was no evidence. "Ukrainians blame everything on Russia, even the bad weather in their country," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.

Friday night's cyberattack came amid heightened tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine conflict. With a massive Russian troop buildup on the border with Ukraine, there are fears Moscow could attack the neighboring country. Several diplomatic crisis talks in recent days were intended to ease tensions but failed to produce a breakthrough.

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