Ukrainians grapple with telecoms outages following cyberattack

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Ukrainian civilians grappled with a second day of extensive cellular phone and internet outages following a devastating cyberattack on Tuesday.

The attack – orchestrated by Kremlin-backed hackers – targeted Kyivstar, the country’s largest mobile phone and Internet provider, affecting 24.3 million mobile subscribers and over 1.1 million home Internet users.

Two hacking groups, Killnet and Solntsepek – both linked to the Russian government – claimed responsibility for the assault.

Killnet vaguely stated on Telegram that Ukrainian mobile operators and some banks were targeted, while Solntsepek boasted about destroying 10,000 computers, over 4,000 servers, and all cloud storage and backup systems belonging to Kyivstar.

The repercussions were severe, with Lviv experiencing disruptions in essential services. Street lights, dependent on Internet-driven automated power switches, had to be manually disconnected after sunrise. The outage further crippled businesses nationwide, hindering credit card transactions and rendering numerous ATMs non-functional.

Critical systems – including air alert systems warning of incoming missile attacks – were also affected, prompting authorities to resort to backup alarms.

Kyivstar CEO Oleksandr Komarov described the cyberattack as unprecedented, marking one of the most significant compromises on a civilian telecommunications provider and exacerbating the challenges faced during the Russia-Ukraine war.

“[To restore] all additional services, from my point of view, will probably take several weeks,” Komarov said in televised comments.

The attack reportedly originated from the infiltration of an internal employee account, according to a report by the New Voice of Ukraine.

Solntsepek, known for its ties to the notorious “Sandworm” hacking group affiliated with the Russian military’s GRU unit, has a history of involvement in destructive cyberattacks. Notably, they were linked to the infamous NotPetya worm, causing an estimated $10 billion in global damages.

This latest incident underscores the escalating cyber threats faced by Ukraine, demanding swift and comprehensive responses to safeguard digital infrastructure.

(Photo by Max Kukurudziak on Unsplash)

See also: UK accuses Russia of sustained hacking campaign

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