The Russian invasion of Ukraine physically started on February 24, 2022, but the cyber invasion of Ukraine started a long time ago. Many major events over the years, such as the Crimea annexation, resulted in many Ukrainian websites being shut down, as well as the mobile phone network. The scale and frequency of the cyberattacks have intensified since the invasion, with Ukraine experiencing an onslaught of destructive and espionage-related cyberattacks.

According to various sources, at least six Russia-aligned nation-state actors have launched more than 237 operations against Ukraine. These attacks include destructive attacks that are ongoing and threaten civilian welfare. In the first four months of 2022, Russian state hackers pummeled Ukraine with more destructive malware than security researchers from Google and Mandiant detected in the previous eight years.F

The Ukrainian government and other individuals familiar with the incident have reported that several Ukrainian government agencies had their data wiped in a cyberattack coordinated with defacement. Moreover, there have been unsuccessful attacks designed to infiltrate computers to delete all files, such as an attack in which hackers tried to shut down the energy grid.

Types of Targets in Russian Cyberattacks on Ukraine

The impact of these cyberattacks has been devastating for Ukraine. The attacks have targeted critical infrastructure, including the energy grid, hospitals, and transportation systems. In some cases, the attacks have disrupted essential services, including power outages, which have resulted in loss of life and economic disruption.

In other cases, the attacks have targeted private companies and individuals, leading to the theft of sensitive data and the destruction of important files. For example, on March 16, 2022, hackers attacked an unnamed Ukrainian organization with destructive malware designed to wipe its hard drives. The same day, suspected Russian attackers infiltrated a Ukrainian media company to spread a bogus story that Kyiv would surrender to Moscow.

The cyberattacks have also targeted NATO nations. According to a report by Breaking Defense, Russian phishing attacks flooded Ukraine and tripled against NATO nations in 2022. The report stated that as Russian ground troops massed along the border with Ukraine in 2021, Russian hackers began laying the foundation for their own unprecedented cyber onslaught.

The cyberattacks have been part of a hybrid war that Russia has been waging against Ukraine. Russia has used cyberattacks as a poignant warning or threat, often to put more force behind diplomatic actions. For instance, on April 8, 2022, while Ukrainian President Zelensky gave an invited address to the Finnish Parliament, the Finnish foreign and defense ministries were hit by a distributed denial of service attack.

The cyberattacks have also been accompanied by broad espionage and intelligence activities, which have targeted Ukrainian government agencies, private companies, and individuals. These activities have included the theft of sensitive data, such as personal and financial information, and the manipulation of social media to spread disinformation and sow discord.

Ukraine’s Efforts to Mitigate Russian Cyberattacks

Despite the severity and frequency of the cyberattacks, Ukraine has been able to withstand them, thanks to the efforts of the Ukrainian government and security researchers from various organizations. These efforts have included the identification of malicious domains, the detection of malware, and the development of mitigation strategies.

The devastating impact of Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine has been felt across the country, affecting both critical infrastructure and private companies and individuals. The attacks have been part of a hybrid war that Russia has been waging against Ukraine, using cyberattacks as a poignant warning or threat, often to put more force behind