Russia’s cyber offensive against the West – GIS Reports

The all-out Russian war effort to conquer Ukraine will lead to a rise in cyberattacks on both Ukrainian and Western critical infrastructure.

In 2020, Russian state hackers breached the security of the SolarWinds software company and gained access to the documents of thousands of entities, including high-profile U.S. state agencies. © Getty Images

In a nutshell

  • Russian cyberattacks are more frequent since the invasion of Ukraine
  • Hacker groups could start striking at more specific targets
  • Vulnerabilities will increase with the rise of digital technologies

Russia’s state-supported cyberattacks increased both before and during its invasion of Ukraine. The moves are part of Moscow’s broader attempt to disrupt services and create intimidation and confusion. Up until now, however, the Kremlin has not launched a devastating cyberwar against NATO countries, despite numerous warnings in recent months.

Western experts are still uncertain whether fears of American cyber retaliation and the existence of a “Mutual Assured Cyber Destruction” (“cyber-MAD”) are the reason why such attacks have not materialized. But any further Western sanctions (such as the European Union’s declared oil embargo on Russia) will increase the risk of devastating Russian cyberattacks.

Shared targets

On May 10, 2022, the European Union, United Kingdom and the United States officially attributed a February 24 cyberattack to Russia. One hour before the invasion of Ukraine, hackers had targeted the Viasat-operated KA-SAT satellite network to disrupt command and control of the Ukrainian military and government communications.

The disrupted internet access caused collateral damage to commercial and residential internet services. Thousands of modems across Central Europe lost their satellite connection. In Germany, 5,800 Enercon wind turbines could no longer be remotely monitored by their operators.

In 2015, Russia conducted its first deliberate cyberattack on Ukraine’s energy…


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