Ukraine: how a cyberattack could cripple the country

As Putin threatens his Western opponents with a military response in Ukraine, the first weapon he could harness is a cyberattack. US experts believe that Russian hackers are capable of crippling the country by attacking its critical infrastructure. Explanations.

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In Ukraine, between 2015 and 2016, a vague of 6,500 cyber attacks against institutions and infrastructure crippled twelve power plants in the country. In Ivano-Frankivs’k, in the west of the country, an attack on the Prykkarpatya Oblenergo power station left 250,000 users without power for six hours. Futura had visited the site and an engineer had shown the videos he had filmed with his phone.

On the monitors, you could see the hackers in action taking full control of the facilities. Impossible to regain control! As the electrical installations mixed Soviet and modern technology, the technicians were able to restart the current delivery points locally. The attack had been well prepared and the hackers had waited for the vacation period to take action.

Cut the current by attacking the distribution points ofenergyis to shut down all communications and paralyze a country entirely. This scenario would be possible in France and undoubtedly even more dangerous still. No need to hack them nuclear center to achieve this. Without electricity, all life stops and supermarkets that operate just in time would not last more than 48 hours. A disaster worse than a war physique !

As tension escalates between NATO members and Russia over the Donbass area, Ukraine fears that a wave of cyber attacks against its electrical systems is not getting ready. It should be noted that the cyber warfare Russian war against Ukraine never stopped even if, like that of the front line trenches, it remained low in intensity. But, according to US intelligence, it has intensified since last month, at the same time as the accumulation of Russian troops near the border in the east of the country.

The cyber weapon to prepare the ground

To prepare Ukraine for these cyberattacks, specialists from the United States and the United Kingdom have been deployed there. The idea is to improve the cyberdéfense country and increase its cyber resilience. The United States is even considering an on-site projection of resources from theUS Cyber Command. Will it just be to show that cyber fighters are there to intimidate Russian hackers? Certainly, because there is not much that can be done to secure the power grid Ukrainian.

As we have already mentioned, it is fragile due to its infrastructure dating from the Soviet era mixed with more recent elements from Russia. Likewise, the computer systems for controlling power plants are Russian. Finally, to top it off, the network is nested with that of Russia.

This is why, like an artillery salvo aimed at preparing the ground for an offensive, thecyber weapon would be a very effective way to cripple Ukrainian infrastructure. The objective: to start another battle of the war hybrid in order to destabilize the government to impose a leader who listens to Moscow. The cyber weapon is also ideal for regulating current voltage, since the proof of l’attribution would remain, as always difficult to bring.

In fact, there would be no need to embark on an adventurous land invasion. It would have serious consequences for Russia. In any case, experts imagine that if a massive cyberattack takes place, it will most likely come after Orthodox Christmas, that is, at the end of the first week of January. In the meantime, US intelligence officials are still trying to find an offensive response.

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