Russia was behind a massive cyberattack against a satellite internet network which took thousands of modems offline at the onset of the war in Ukraine, Britain and the European Union said on Tuesday.
The digital assault against Viasat’s KA-SAT network in late February took place just as Russian armour pushed into Ukraine and helped facilitate President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of the country, the Council of the EU said in a statement.
“This cyber attack had a significant impact causing indiscriminate communication outages and disruptions across several public authorities, businesses and users in Ukraine, as well as affecting several EU Member States,” the statement said.
“This unacceptable cyberattack is yet another example of Russia’s continued pattern of irresponsible behaviour in cyberspace, which also formed an integral part of its illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine,” it added.
The remote sabotage caused a “huge loss in communications in the very beginning of war,” Ukrainian cybersecurity official Victor Zhora said in March.
Russia routinely denies it carries out offensive cyber operations. The Kremlin did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters for comment.
Western intelligence agencies, including the U.S. National Security Agency, French government cybersecurity organisation ANSSI, and Ukrainian intelligence were investigating Russia’s potential role in the attack in the days after it, Reuters reported at the time.
“This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia against Ukraine which had significant consequences on ordinary people and businesses in Ukraine and across Europe,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.