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A report yesterday in the Washington Post feels like a turning point in how we view last month’s Russian cyber offensive against Ukraine.
Ellen Nakashima’s report shows that US intelligence did indeed attribute a cyberattack against European satellite internet services to Russia at the end of February. The attack is said to have had an impact on the war as it disrupted communications for the Ukrainian military from Feb. 24, the day of the Russian invasion, Nakashima reported.
In other words, it looks like an indisputable cyber war between Russia and Ukraine — the most serious in this conflict reported to date.
But the emphasis should be on ‘yet’: there is a lot we don’t know yet. And that we may never know.
The Russian military’s role in the ViaSat malfunction only came to light through a series of journalistic efforts — a Reuters team had previously reported that Western intelligence agencies, including the NSA, were investigating the cyber attack. The details of what happened did not come through a statement from the Ukrainian government or the military.
VentureBeat has laid out the reasons why Ukraine may not be interested in disclosing details about the most damaging cyber-attacks at this point. But a recent New York Times essay by Johns Hopkins University professor Thomas Rid — “Why You Haven’t Heard About Ukraine’s Secret Cyber War” — articulates the issue clearly.
“The Ukrainian security agency has, of course, no interest in revealing the details of what could be a successful command-and-control attack amid an existential war,” Rid writes, referring to why Ukraine hasn’t said much about the Viasat. -cyber attack.
To put it more succinctly, disclosing Russia’s great victories in cyberspace is not a top priority for Ukraine. It’s understandable, given what Ukraine is in the midst of right now. It also forces us to recognize that we are working with incomplete information when assessing the cyber situation in Ukraine.
The bottom line is that Russia’s cyber warfare efforts may be more extensive than we realize. Statements by Microsoft and Amazon about cyberattacks with humanitarian implications — none of which have been made public by Ukraine — also seem to support this idea.
Has Russia carried out fewer and less serious cyber attacks on Ukraine than it could have done? Probably. But do we really know the magnitude of what happened on the cyber battlefield in this conflict? We do not.
And in the end, we may never know. If the Ukrainian government and military have the information about the cyber-attacks it faced during this war, those institutions will presumably have to survive to ever release that information. We hope, of course, that they will survive — and for some much more important reasons than a desire to learn the details of what may be the first major cyber war.
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This post We may never know the full details of Russia’s cyber war against Ukraine
was original published at “https://venturebeat.com/2022/03/25/we-may-never-know-the-full-details-of-russias-cyberwar-against-ukraine/”