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Ukrainian officials believe Russia hacked their satellite communications

A cyber-attack on a Ukrainian satellite is confirmed by Western intelligence services, although no authority has officially disclosed it. Russian cyberwarfare has a long history and in recent events Russia claims that they have hacked Ukraine’s communication satellite Viasat. It looks to be among the most serious cyber-attack associated with the conflict to date, impacting both military and government communications.

The cyber-attack targeted Viasat’s KA-SAT satellite broadband network, an American satellite communications company. Because the cyber-attack targeted satellites, it impacted their services in other European countries but not the UK. Unknown hackers took down tens of thousands of modems that interact with Viasat Inc’s KA-SAT satellite, which provides internet to users in Europe, including Ukraine. The modems were damaged by a malicious update produced by hackers with access to some section of Viasat’s network, according to government officials. The incident was first ascribed to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) campaign by several media publications.

In a statement, Viasat spokesperson Chris Phillips said,

“Viasat is currently working with distributors to restore service for those fixed broadband users in Europe who have been impacted by this event.”

According to a report in the Washington Post, Russia’s military intelligence organisation, the GRU, is suspected behind the Viasat hack. Previously, Russian state hackers affiliated to the GRU were able to turn off the electricity for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians however, nothing this enormous has ever been seen before. Furthermore, The French government’s cybersecurity agency, ANSSI, and Ukrainian intelligence are investigating if the remote operation was conducted by Russian-backed hackers who were seeking to disrupt communications to prepare the battlefield.

So far in 2022, cyber-attacks have been restrained, with suspected website vandalism and modest DDoS attempts occurring soon before and just after the war’s start. For the time being, Russia is determined to employ conventional warfare to force Ukraine to surrender. The Biden administration has issued significant warnings about the prospect of Russian cyberattacks on US infrastructure as the crisis in Ukraine continues and US resistance to Russia develops in the form of sanctions.

Statement by President Biden issued a warning to Russia, saying:

“I have previously warned about the potential that Russia could conduct malicious cyber activity against the U.S. Today, I am reiterating those warnings based on evolving intelligence that the Russian Government is exploring options for potential cyberattacks.”

Russian military have suffered serious casualties while ransacking residential neighbourhoods in Ukraine, forcing almost three million people to evacuate. Moscow denies that people are being targeted in a “special operation” to disarm its neighbour. Officials claim both sides have continued to engage in computer hackers throughout the conflict, notably in intercepting communications and attempting to find and target people and tactical units.

Even though Ukraine’s internet was shut off, Elon Musk stepped in to help by offering his Starlink satellite services through Space X. Ukrainians may use the Starlink kits to connect directly to SpaceX’s orbital network, which has a total of 2,000 satellites.

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