Ukraine’s defense ministry and two state-linked banks were affected by cyberattacks Tuesday, the latest in an ongoing hybrid war campaign involving electronic espionage and fake bomb threats designed to sow chaos and destabilize the Ukrainian government, according to reports.
A statement from the Ukrainian Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security did not identify Russia as the culprit behind the attack, but suggested Moscow’s involvement.
“It is not ruled out that the aggressor used tactics of little dirty tricks because his aggressive plans are not working out on a large scale,” the statement said, according to Reuters.
Along with the defense ministry, the websites of Privatbank and Oshadbank were targeted.
A message from the defense ministry’s homepage said it was under maintenance.
On its Twitter account, the ministry said it suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack after “an excessive number of requests per second was recorded” on its site and that it is working to restore the portal.
Oshadbank said the attack slowed down some of its systems, and the communications center said Privatbank was having difficulties with a banking app.
A massive cyberattack hit Ukraine last month, striking the foreign ministry, the cabinet of ministers and the security and defense council, among others.
The attack left government websites inaccessible and posted the message “Be afraid and expect the worst” on some homepages.
The intrusions come as Russia has massed an estimated 130,000 troops and heavy military equipment along its border with Ukraine, which the US and Western officials fear is in preparation for an invasion that could happen any day.
But while Russia has yet to send any forces over the border, it has already been carrying out a different sort of operation.
Ukrainian police say 1,000 fake bomb threats were made to nearly 10,000 different locations in January, most of them via email, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“The No. 1 task for Russia is to undermine us from within, ”Oleksiy Danilov, an aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, told the newspaper. “They want to throttle our economy.”