Russia’s government website hacked with pro-Ukraine message displayed instead

·2-min read
Russia’s government website hacked with pro-Ukraine message displayed instead

A Russian government website appears to have been hacked over the weekend, causing an Internet search for the site to lead to a "Glory to Ukraine" sign in Ukrainian.

Russia's Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities website was targeted after many of the country’s state-owned companies and news organisations suffered hacking attempts since the Russian government’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

Russia's state news agency RIA quoted a ministry representative on Sunday as saying that the site was down but users' personal data were protected. The website was working as normal by Monday.

RIA said that other media had reported that hackers were demanding a ransom to prevent the public disclosure of users' data.

Russia’s war on Ukraine is being fought not only with bombs but with bytes as cyber warfare plays an increasingly major role in the invasion.

Before the outbreak of the war, Ukraine saw a rise in cyberattacks on several of its banks and government departments. Many of the attacks came in the form of so-called wiper attacks which destroy data on machines or DDoS attacks, which uses multiple, distributed devices to flood systems.

In response, volunteer hackers began defending Ukraine with the so-called "IT Army," which was set up by Ukrainian digital minister Mykhailo Fedorov. The group is accessed by the messaging app Telegram and lists potential state-owned Russian targets.

Governments around the world have also come to Ukraine’s defence to support its cyber infrastructure. In the wake of this cyber warfare, countries such as the United States and Australia have issued recommendations to companies to strengthen their cyber security.

But Ukraine, like other Baltic states that were formerly occupied by the USSR, has been fighting cyber threats for decades. Their experience shows these countries have the strongest cybersecurity preparedness, with an index higher than Australia's, Canada's, and Europe's average, according to VPN service company Surfshark.

The study showed that Ukraine and Latvia, which both have an index of 75, surpass the European average by 3 per cent.

While Lithuania tops the survey, with an index of 93, almost 28 per cent higher than Europe’s average. Estonia was in second place with an index of over 90.

Meanwhile, Russia’s score is 2.5 per cent lower than Europe’s average and has an index of 71 per cent, according to Sufshark, which also said that Russia had the most data breaches in the first quarter of 2022, with close to 3.6 million internet users affected and a 136 per cent spike in cases after the invasion.

Russia’s latest hacking attacks were in early May, which kept video-hosting site RuTube offline for three days and altered satellite television menus in Moscow on Victory Day, when Russia celebrated the 77th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany.

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