Russia has hacked Ukraine’s satellite communications, officials believe

Russia has hacked Ukraine’s satellite communications, officials believe


On the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is believed the country hacked US satellite company Viasat.


Although Western intelligence agencies haven’t publicly accused Russia of perpetrating the attack, they believe it was the work of the Russian government.

The cyberattack seems to be the biggest cyberattack to have affected military and government communications so far.

Officials from Western nations say Ukraine has emerged from cyber-attacks stronger than many had anticipated.

Viasat uses a network of satellites for communications, and Western intelligence agencies are investigating the hack.

On the day the cyber invasion began, the devices were apparently wiped by a sophisticated attack.

Other European countries were also affected, but not the UK.

In an interview, Viasat revealed that it was replacing some customers’ modems but not the satellite or its core network infrastructure.

According to a statement from Viasat, the company is actively working with distributors to restore service to customers in Europe affected by the incident.

Neither the company nor the US government provided attribution, as they are waiting on that information from the US government.


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A government official called it the most obvious example of spillover.

There is almost no doubt that this was Russia’s doing, although the evidence hasn’t been gathered for a public accusation yet.

According to one Western official, using their cyber-capability as part of the support for their military operations is precisely what we would expect Russia to do.

In their view, it is an example of cyber-attacks being used to deliberately sow confusion by disrupting Ukrainian command and control, which is what the Russian military doctrine advocates.

Cyber-authorities in America have recently warned that they are “aware of potential threats to satellite communication networks”, and the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have called for increased security measures due to the continued risk to satellite communications.

Washington Post reports that Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, was responsible for the Viasat hack.

ACCORDING TO OTHER SOURCES, the GRU has also been involved in operations against Ukraine.


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Moscow was predicted to engage in large-scale destructive cyber-activity in the initial phases of the invasion.

The GRU is suspected of being behind power outages affecting hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians. No reports have been made of a widespread outage.

Western analysts attribute the absence of destructive attacks to several factors.

According to Russian expectations, the Kyiv government would be removed quickly, and a new pro-Moscow government would take its place.

The destruction of infrastructure would be pointless in this scenario.

Russian hackers did not have sufficient notice since, like the military, they may not have been aware of an invasion until the last minute. Destructive cyberattacks take time to prepare.

It is also true that hard military power has the ability to destroy more challenging targets like TV towers in a full-blown military conflict rather than cyber-attacks that do not always succeed.

The West cautions against the idea that cyber-attacks have not occurred. According to some analysts, the Ukrainians might have just been resilient to the attacks they did face.


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One official said that the Ukrainian government had been targeted across a wide range of networks and systems.

A Ukrainian official also noted that Russia intended to disrupt Ukrainian systems prior to the invasion.

Just a few days before the invasion, a virus called “Wiper” was used to target government systems.

Ukraine’s defences, though, are believed to have defended itself successfully against attacks from several Russian-linked groups.

It may also have helped to have experience from previous attacks.


One official claimed that the Russians may have helped the Ukrainians become match-fit.

The official said Ukrainians had shown remarkable resilience, adding that the country has received extensive assistance from both the private and public sectors.

Since the late 1990s, both the US and UK have cooperated closely with Ukrainian cyber-intelligence, including in specific areas like telecommunications.

Officials said that effort was put into this area with the support of allies.

It is believed both sides have been engaging in cyber-espionage in the conflict, particularly trying to intercept communications and pinpoint individuals and military formations.


‘Possible activity’

Significant cyberattacks have not yet targeted the West from Moscow.

In response to Western sanctions, some had feared that Russia would launch cyber-attacks against the West, perhaps unleashing criminal gangs who could use ransomware to lock businesses and organizations out.

The White House recently warned of possible activity based on intelligence it has seen.

It remains to be seen whether the country is preparing for something worse or if this is just a regular occurrence caused by Russia’s cyber-activities.

US Department of Justice and UK Foreign Office on Thursday accused Russia’s spy agency FSB of hacking energy providers between 2012 and 2018.


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