US and its allies say Russia waged cyberattack that took out satellite network


Cartoon padlock and broken glass superimposed on a Russian flag.

The US and European Union on Tuesday said Russia was dependable for a cyberattack in February that crippled a satellite community in Ukraine and neighboring countries, disrupting communications and a wind farm applied to deliver electrical energy.

The February 24 assault unleashed wiper malware that ruined 1000’s of satellite modems used by prospects of communications enterprise Viasat. A thirty day period later on, stability organization SentinelOne reported an analysis of the wiper malware utilised in the assault shared a number of technological similarities to VPNFilter, a piece of malware identified on a lot more than 500,000 residence and smaller place of work modems in 2018. Numerous US government organizations attributed VPNFilter to Russian condition menace actors.

Tens of countless numbers of modems taken out by AcidRain

“Today, in aid of the European Union and other partners, the United States is sharing publicly its evaluation that Russia released cyber assaults in late February from industrial satellite communications networks to disrupt Ukrainian command and handle during the invasion, and those people actions experienced spillover impacts into other European nations around the world,” US Secretary of Condition Antony Blinken wrote in a assertion. “The exercise disabled extremely tiny aperture terminals in Ukraine and throughout Europe. This involves tens of hundreds of terminals outdoors of Ukraine that, among the other factors, assistance wind turbines and provide Net products and services to private citizens.”

AcidRain, the title of the wiper analyzed by SentinelOne, is a beforehand unidentified piece of malware. Consisting of an executable file for the MIPS hardware in Viasat modems, AcidRain is the seventh unique piece of wiper malware affiliated with Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. Wipers demolish information on really hard drives in a way that can not be reversed. In most conditions, they render devices or whole networks totally unusable.

SentinelOne researchers said they discovered “non-trivial” but ultimately “inconclusive” developmental similarities between AcidRain and “dstr,” the title of a wiper module in VPNFilter. The resemblances involved a 55 p.c code similarity as calculated by a resource recognized as TLSH, equivalent part header strings tables, and the “storing of the prior syscall range to a international spot ahead of a new syscall.”

Viasat officers explained at the time that the SentinelOne investigation and results have been dependable with the final result of their have investigation.

A person of the very first symptoms of the hack transpired when much more than 5,800 wind turbines belonging to the German vitality firm Enercon were being knocked offline. The outage didn’t quit the turbines from spinning, but it prevented engineers from remotely resetting them. Enercon has considering that managed to get most of the influenced turbines again on the web and substitute the satellite modems.

“The cyberattack took put a single hour in advance of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 hence facilitating the military aggression,” EU officers wrote in an official assertion. “This cyberattack had a sizeable impact causing indiscriminate communication outages and disruptions across numerous community authorities, organizations and customers in Ukraine, as very well as influencing several EU Member States.”

In a separate statement, British International Secretary Liz Truss mentioned: “This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and destructive assault by Russia towards Ukraine which experienced significant implications on everyday individuals and firms in Ukraine and across Europe.”

Repeat cyber offender

The cyberattack was a person of lots of Russia has carried out versus Ukraine in excess of the past eight years. In 2015 and again in 2016, hackers doing the job for the Kremlin caused energy blackouts that still left hundreds of hundreds of Ukrainians devoid of heat all through a single of the coldest months.

Commencing close to January 2022, in the direct-up to Russia’s invasion of its neighboring country, Russia unleashed a host of other cyberattacks against Ukrainian targets, like a series of distributed denial-of-company attacks, site defacements, and wiper assaults.

Moreover the two attacks on Ukrainian electrical power infrastructure, proof shows Russia is also responsible for NotPetya, one more disk wiper that was released in Ukraine and later on distribute all over the planet, the place it induced an approximated $10 billion in harm. In 2018, the US sanctioned Russia for the NotPetya attack and interference in the 2016 election.

Critics have long said that the US and its allies did not do ample to punish Russia for NotPetya or the 2015 or 2016 assaults on Ukraine, which keep on being the only acknowledged true-environment hacks to knock out electricity.


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