Damage is seen inside a hospital in Severodonetsk, Ukraine, in this screengrab from a video released by the Luhansk regional administration.

The Russian military strike shows “significant” damage to a hospital in Severodonetsk, Ukraine, according to the video 2022-04-27 15:55:00

Damage is seen inside a hospital in Severodonetsk, Ukraine, in this screengrab from a video released by the Luhansk regional administration.

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Microsoft said Wednesday that six different hacking groups linked to the Kremlin have conducted nearly 240 cyber operations against Ukrainian targets, in data revealing a broader scope of alleged Russian cyber-attacks during the war on Ukraine than previously documented.

“Russia’s use of cyberattacks appears to be closely related and sometimes directly timed to its kinetic military operations,” said Tom Burt, Vice President of Microsoft.

Microsoft’s report is the most comprehensive public record to date of Russian hacking efforts related to the war in Ukraine. It fills in some gaps in the public understanding of where Russia’s alleged cyber capabilities were deployed during the war.

Burt cited a cyber attack on a Ukrainian broadcasting company on March 1, the same day a Russian missile strike hit a Kyiv TV tower, and malicious emails sent to Ukrainians falsely claiming that the Ukrainian government was “abandoned” amid the Russian blockade of Kyiv. The city of Mariupol.

Microsoft’s report says suspected Russian hackers are “compromising organizations in areas across Ukraine,” and may have been gathering intelligence on Ukrainian military partnerships several months before the full-scale invasion in February.

Viktor Zora, a senior Ukrainian government cyber official, told reporters on Wednesday that Russian military attacks on Ukraine “are sometimes associated with cyberattacks, particularly when they involve attacks on communications infrastructure in some regions.”

In the weeks following Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine, some US critics and officials were surprised that there were no significantly disruptive or debilitating Russian cyberattacks on the country. Possible explanations ranged from disorganization in Russian military planning to robust Ukrainian defenses to the fact that bombs and bullets took precedence over wartime piracy.

But a barrage of alleged Russian and Belarusian hacks aimed at destabilizing Ukraine has already occurred, with some hacks emerging weeks after they occurred. Some hacking attempts have been more successful than others.

A multifaceted cyber attack at the start of the war disrupted the Internet service of tens of thousands of satellite modems in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe; CNN previously reported that US officials are investigating the incident as a possible Russian state-sponsored hack.

More background: Earlier this month, a Russian military-linked hacking group targeted a Ukrainian power substation in a hack that, if successful, could have cut off electricity to two million people, according to Ukrainian officials. But while the same hacking group succeeded in cutting off electricity in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016, the latest cyber attack did not affect the electricity supply of the targeted electricity company, according to Zura.

NATO officials David Cutler and Daniel Black observed a series of alleged Russian data-wipe hacks targeting Ukrainian organizations over several weeks.

“If observers see this cyberattack as a series of isolated events, its scale and strategic importance are lost in the conventional violence unfolding in Ukraine,” Cutler and Black wrote in Foreign Affairs this month. “But the full accounting of cyber operations reveals the proactive and ongoing use of cyber attacks in support of Russian military objectives.”

Officials from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, and other agencies worked closely with their Ukrainian counterparts to try to defend against Russian hacking and gain insight into Russian capabilities that could be used against the United States.

“Ukraine, unfortunately, has been a kind of playground for electronic weapons for the past eight years,” Zora said. “And now we see that some of the technologies that have been tested or some of the attacks that have been orchestrated on Ukrainian infrastructure are continuing in other states.”

Zhora described the resilience of the defenders of the Ukrainian network.

Zahra said on Wednesday that Russian hackers “remain dangerous”. “They continue to threaten democracies, threaten Ukrainian cyberspace. However, I don’t think they can expand their cyberwarfare or can use some completely new technologies that can attack Ukrainian infrastructure.”

CNN requested comment from the Russian Embassy in Washington, D.C. on Microsoft’s report.

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