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US and EU cyber investment in Ukraine pays off in the war

Recent US and European investments in cyber defense in Ukraine are being tested following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the weeks and months leading up to the conflict, the United States and the European Union (EU) have teamed up with cyber warfare experts to prevent Russia’s cyber attacks from destroying the country’s critical infrastructure. Was placed.

A newly formed EU Cyber ​​Rapid Response team of 12 experts and a US Cyber ​​Command “Hunt Forward” team have been dispatched to Ukraine to search for active cyber threats in the network and defend the country’s cyber defense. Was strengthened.

This was in response to a wave of cyberattacks targeting local banks and Ukrainian government websites (Parliament, Foreign Ministry, Defense Ministry, etc.) weeks and days before the invasion, Russia denied involvement. doing.

Western countries have begun aggressive investment in Ukraine’s cyber defense following a 2015 power grid hack and a 2017 Petya malware attack. Power grid attacks have lost more than 200,000 people over several hours, and Petya malware has disrupted major Ukrainian agencies such as banks and government ministries. And companies.

James Turgal, vice president of cybersecurity firm Optiv, said these attacks were awakening calls for Ukraine and the West to take defensive measures to detect and prevent such attacks.

“Western nations, including the United States, have learned a lot from how Russians did it,” Mr. Targal said. And the procedure was used by the Russians. “

Turgal, part of its western support, not only helps Ukrainians understand different types of cyberattacks, but also throughout the network, where they originated and how they entered the system. He explained that it involves understanding how far it has spread and how to break it down.

With Western support, Ukraine is more resilient, especially given that it is uniquely vulnerable to Russian attacks, especially since most of its infrastructure was built by Moscow during the Soviet era since the first cyberattack. ..

“The original basic ecosystem that runs in Ukraine was built by Russians,” said Turgal, a former executive assistant director of the FBI’s information technology department, and the country probably designed new technologies and their. He added that he had upgraded some of his infrastructure. Independent from the Soviet Union.

Turgal also said Ukraine’s “cyber ecosystem is much stronger than it was before 2015.” This is partly due to cyber support from the West.

The US commitment to support Ukraine was recently expressed by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. Wendy Sherman said it was an important time for the United States and its allies to strengthen cyber defenses and support Russia’s victims, including Ukraine. Attacks including cyber attacks.

According to Sherman, the United States has invested $ 40 million to support the growth of Ukraine’s information technology sector since 2017, targeting Russia’s key infrastructure, including power grids and financial systems. We are under a number of cyber attacks based.

“Our NATO allies and European partners have also made significant contributions to improving Ukraine’s cybersecurity,” said Sherman, who said the investment would allow Ukrainians to “maintain the Internet during a brutal Russian invasion.” And kept the information flowing, “he added.

Pentagon spokesman John KirbyJohn Kirby Sunday shows preview: Russia’s invasion extends Ukraine to the third week GOP Senator urges Biden to promote air power, transfer of air defense system to Ukraine leadership, security Failure led to a fatal Kenyan terrorist attack: Pentagon probe details He reiterated this feeling when he told reporters at a briefing on March 9 that the United States “helped improve overtime.” [Ukraine’s] Cyberspace resilience. I think that part of that resilience is also on display. “

“The Ukrainians have improved their ability to increase elasticity,” Kirby added, just because there was no catastrophic cyberattack by the Russians does not mean they did not try.

Western governments are not the only ones sharing cyber expertise with Ukrainians. The private sector, including technology companies such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft, is also partnering with the Ukrainian government to help combat cyberattacks. Experts and researchers at the American Enterprise Institute.

The blessing said the private sector is also at the forefront of providing technical support and cyber expertise to Ukrainians, especially after the invasion.

Hours before the Russian invasion, Microsoft said it had detected a new piece of malware (called FoxBlade) trying to destroy Ukraine’s digital infrastructure. The tech company shared information with the Ukrainian government and said it was able to disassemble within three hours. ..

Cyber ​​attacks seem like a new weapon to Russia, but at the moment the biggest threat is physical attacks such as bombing, which can destroy critical infrastructure, Blessing said.

“There is a reason to be careful about what kind of cyber activity can occur in the Ukrainian network. It cannot be ignored, but today’s bigger threats literally cause the same effect. I think it’s a possible physical attack on the infrastructure. It’s much cheaper. “

“As the conflict prolongs, cyber becomes a component. It’s already happening, but it could stay with the low-cost, sophisticated methods already in use,” he added.

Western governments also speculate on why Russia did not launch such a devastating cyberattack against Ukraine, as it did in 2015 and 2017. Some cyber experts say Russia is considering options for whether it is worth launching a devastating cyberattack. Following the economic sanctions imposed by the West.

Other experts say that even if Russia has the ability to launch a devastating cyberattack against Ukraine, it probably will not completely destroy the country’s critical infrastructure, especially if it plans to take over Ukraine. I believe you have selected.

“If [Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTrump tears into Biden amid Ukraine conflict Bipartisan group of senators to meet with officials, visit refugee sites in Poland Republicans seize on rising gas prices amid Ukraine conflict MORE] Trying to take over the country, he can’t completely destroy all the infrastructure as they move in, and they are responsible [damage]Tom Stefanick, a visiting researcher at the Brookings Institution’s Foreign Policy Program, said.

Mr Putin said Putin is probably strategic in terms of how to use cyberattacks against Ukraine, as rebuilding such critical infrastructure can be costly. Russians also said they may be using non-advanced cyberattacks such as decentralized denial of service attacks. Enough to destroy important sectors, but not completely.

In a statement to The Hill, the FBI “is dedicated to investigating and responding to malicious cyber incidents affecting critical infrastructure in Ukraine.”

“We are working with our domestic and international partners to identify, thwart and thwart these targeted cyber threats,” an FBI spokesman added.

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