KIEV, Oct. 30 – The official website of the President of Ukraine was shut down on Tuesday apparently due to a well-coordinated cyberspace attack, mostly from Russia, that had persisted for three days.
The presidential computer network registered at least 18,000 attempts from Russian hackers, but also commanding computers around the world, to penetrate its system before falling down on Tuesday.
“The attack has been persisting for the past three days,” a source at the Ukrainian presidential office told Ukrayinska Pravda, an online newspaper.
The Eurasian Union of the Youth, a Moscow-based organization vehemently supporting the policy of Russian President Vladimir Putin, announced on Tuesday its assets had been behind the attack.
The Russian organization also vowed to shut down the website of the Ukrainian Security Service, or SBU, in the near future. The SBU website has been operating Tuesday without any visible disruptions.
Cyberspace has been emerging as a new theatre of conflict for governments around the increasingly networked world, with Russia and China frequently cited as the most active parties.
Earlier this year, for instance, Estonia accused Russia of orchestrating a massive attack that temporarily crippled government networks, a claim Russia denied.
Angela Merkel, Germany's chancellor, raised reports of Chinese infiltration of German government computers during her visit to Beijing earlier this year.
A part of Pentagon computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, the US defense secretary, was shut in June apparently due to the attack from hackers believed to be affiliated with the Chinese military.
Russia and China officially deny any involvement.
That’s why the statement by the Eurasian Union of the Youth, a well-established organization extremely loyal to the Russian government, is remarkable.
The latest developments show that the Russian organization has been using sophisticated computer assets capable of disrupting a government computer network and eager to do so for political reasons.
The Eurasian Union of the Youth, which advocates for closer ties between Ukraine and Russia and other former Soviet republics, has been vehemently opposing Ukraine’s accession to NATO. The Union was an active party seeking to stop joint NATO-Ukraine naval exercises earlier this year.
The Union said the cyber attack on the website of President Viktor Yushchenko was “in response to an attack by Orange fascist regime of Yushchenko” against its own website.
The Union also threatened to disable the website of the Ukrainian security service unless Yushchenko dismisses Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, SBU’s pro-NATO chief.
“We suggest Yushchenko in advance to remove Nalyvaychenko,” the Union said. “In this case there will be definitely no attack from us on the SBU’s website.” (tl/ez)