Microsoft warns Ukraine cyberattack may be ‘destructive’
Microsoft warned Sunday that a cyberattack targeting key Ukrainian government systems, which Kyiv believes may be the work of Russia, could prove destructive and affect more organisations than initially feared.
Ukraine was hit by a massive cyberattack in the early hours of Friday blamed by the West on Russia and which some analysts feared could be the prelude to a physical attack.
The United States on Friday also accused Russia of sending saboteurs trained in explosives to stage an incident that could be the pretext to invade Ukraine.
Microsoft said on Sunday it continued to analyse the malware and warned it could render government digital infrastructure inoperable.
“The malware, which is designed to look like ransomware but lacking a ransom recovery mechanism, is intended to be destructive and designed to render targeted devices inoperable rather than to obtain a ransom,” the US software giant said in a blog post.
Microsoft said it had not so far identified a culprit behind the attacks but warned that the number of affected organisations could prove larger than initially thought.
“Our investigation teams have identified the malware on dozens of impacted systems and that number could grow as our investigation continues,” Microsoft said.
“These systems span multiple government, non-profit, and information technology organisations, all based in Ukraine. We do not know the current stage of this attacker’s operational cycle or how many other victim organisations may exist in Ukraine or other geographic locations.”
Late Friday, Ukrainian officials said they had uncovered preliminary indicators Russian security services could have been behind the cyberattack.
The Kremlin rejected the claims and said there was no evidence Russia was behind the attacks.
“We have nothing to do with it. Russia has nothing to do with these cyberattacks,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told CNN.
“Ukrainians are blaming everything on Russia, even their bad weather in their country,” he said in English.
The hacking came as tensions are at an all-time high between Ukraine and Russia, which Kyiv accuses of having massed troops on its border ahead of a possible invasion.