Destructive software on government PCs in Ukraine

Status: 01/16/2022 1:58 p.m

Security researchers have discovered new malware on computers in Ukraine. They suspect an attack on behalf of a state. Foreign Minister Baerbock is expected in Kiev tomorrow – a difficult trip given the Ukraine conflict.

Microsoft security researchers have discovered new malware on dozens of computers in Ukraine that could render them unusable. The program disguised itself as a blackmail Trojan, but was actually intended to destroy data on the attacker’s command, Microsoft said. The software was found, among other things, on the computers of government agencies and IT specialists. Microsoft sees an increased risk for all computer systems in Ukraine.

Microsoft suspects order from a state

The experts did not comment on the possible origin of the attack. So far, no matches have been found with the activities of already known groups, it said. At the same time, Microsoft made it clear that an attacker acting on behalf of a state was suspected.

Previous cyber attacks in Ukraine are seen by Western IT experts and authorities as the work of Russian hackers, some with links to secret services.

As recently as Friday, websites owned by Ukrainian authorities were the target of an attack and displayed a message from the hackers. Those affected included the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Energy and the Ministry of Civil Protection. In this case, too, there was no information as to who could be behind it.

Is Russia Behind Cyber ​​Attack?

According to Kiev, it has “evidence” that Russia was involved in the massive cyber attack. “All the evidence points to Russia being behind the cyber attack,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation said. Previously, Kiev had stated that there were “indications” of a possible involvement of Russian secret services.

Moscow rejected these accusations and said there was no evidence. “The Ukrainians blame everything on Russia, even the bad weather in their country,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.

With a massive Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine, there are fears Moscow could attack the neighboring country. This makes the discovery of software that could disable government computers particularly explosive.

Ukrainian ambassador calls for arms supplies

Several diplomatic crisis talks in the past few days were intended to ease tensions, but failed to bring about a breakthrough. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock is therefore facing her most difficult journey to date. Shortly before her first visit to Kiev, the Ukrainian ambassador in Berlin urged the Green politician to promise Ukraine the supply of weapons for national defense. The reluctance or even refusal of arms deliveries by Baerbock and the entire new federal government is “very frustrating and bitter,” said Ambassador Andriy Melnyk of the dpa news agency. “Now the moment of truth has come as to who the real friend is.”

According to Melnyk, the Ukrainians are aware that the coalition agreement between the SPD, the Greens and the FDP stipulates a restrictive arms export policy that does not permit arms deliveries to crisis areas. “But this political document is not a Bible. And the world is currently facing the greatest danger of a huge war in the middle of Europe, the worst since 1945.”

The statehood of Ukraine is being threatened by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Ukrainians have the “holy right to self-defense”. Ukraine has been demanding arms deliveries from Germany for years in order to be able to defend itself against a possible Russian attack – so far without success.

FDP defense expert advises hardness

The FDP defense expert Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann advised toughness towards Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin is pursuing “great power fantasies” and wants “to go back to the Cold War era,” said the chair of the Bundestag Defense Committee to the AFP news agency. “Putin only understands crystal clear announcements – including the possible consequences.”

The FDP politician welcomed the fact that there had been a series of diplomatic contacts at international level with Russia in the past week. However, she warned that the West must be careful not to make too many concessions in dialogue with Russia. “Putin is testing how far he can go, he’s showing us and forcing the narrative on us that we have to move,” said Strack-Zimmermann. The Kremlin boss “provokes at all levels”.

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