NEW DELHI: A new report from Microsoft says that Russian hackers are getting ready to launch a new cyber attack against Ukraine. According to the report, these hackers are targeting Ukrainian government agencies and groups with sophisticated techniques and tools.
The Russian hacking group known as “Fancy Bear” or “APT28,” according to Microsoft’s analysis, is behind this new assault. The group has previously been connected to a number of high-profile cyber attacks, including the 2016 US presidential election hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
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According to the report, the hackers use a variety of methods to infiltrate Ukrainian networks, including spear-phishing emails and malware. Hackers can steal confidential information, monitor user activity, and even take control of vital infrastructure once they gain access to a system.
The report says, “Since January 2023, Microsoft has seen Russian cyber threat activity change to increase its ability to do damage and gather intelligence on the civilian and military assets of Ukraine and its partners.” One group “appears to be getting ready for a new campaign of destruction.”
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Microsoft found that a very smart Russian hacking group called Sandworm was testing “additional ransomware-style capabilities that could be used in destructive attacks on organisations outside Ukraine that serve key functions in Ukraine’s supply lines.”
In a typical ransomware attack, hackers break into an organisation, encrypt their data, and demand money to let them back in. In the past, ransomware has also been used to hide other types of malicious cyber activity, such as “wipers” that just delete data.
Since January 2022, at least nine different wipers and two different kinds of ransomware have been used against more than 100 Ukrainian organisations, Microsoft said.
The report says that these changes have been accompanied by a rise in Russian cyber operations that are more covert and are meant to directly harm organisations in countries that support Ukraine.
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Given the ongoing cnflict between Ukraine and Russia, the timing of this new cyber attack is especially concerning. Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, the two countries have been at odds, and tensions have risen in recent months as Russia has expanded its armed presence near the Ukrainian border.
Microsoft is encouraging Ukrainian organisations to take urgent precautions to protect their networks and data, such as updating all software and security patches, implementing multi-factor authentication, and teaching employees on how to identify and avoid phishing scams. In addition, the business is collaborating with law enforcement agencies and other partners to disrupt these hackers’ activities and avoid further attacks.
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