- By Emily TamkinEmily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. She writes for FP’s The Cable, a real-time take on the news in Washington and the wider world. She has been at FP since the fall of 2016, before which she was an associate editor at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. She has a B.A. in Russian literature from Columbia University, an M.Phil. in Russian and East European studies from the University of Oxford, and studied Soviet dissidence in archival centers in Moscow, Tbilisi, and, on a Fulbright, in Bremen — all of which means that at FP, she writes when she can on Russia and Central and Eastern Europe.
Ukraine was hit — and hit hard — by hackers on Tuesday, with government institutions, the main airport, the state power distributor, and banks all being affected.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko posted a photo of his computer to Twitter, saying that every government computer was similarly dark.
The Ukrainian central bank blamed a virus, and said in a statement, “As a result of these cyber attacks these banks are having difficulties with client services and carrying out banking operations.”
Ukraine’s official Twitter account tweeted out a meme in response.
Some of our gov agencies, private firms were hit by a virus. No need to panic, we’re putting utmost efforts to tackle the issue 👌 pic.twitter.com/RsDnwZD5Oj
— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) June 27, 2017
To which Ukraine’s parliament replied:
We've been standing strong so far 😎
— Verkhovna Rada (@ua_parliament) June 27, 2017
But the attacks hit Ukraine especially hard, and follow hacking attempts on state websites late last year and an attack on Ukraine’s power grid toward the end of 2015. Ukraine has blamed Russia for those incidents, while Russia has denied responsibility.
It is still unclear who was behind the attack. Some experts believe it is a ransomware attack. The advisor to Ukraine’s interior minister said he thinks the attack came from Russia, as other major cyber onslaughts have.
“A huge cyber-attack has been started against Ukraine. It was done under the disguise that it is allegedly a virus… According to the preliminary information, this is an organized system, a kind of training by the Russian intelligence services. The attack aims at banks, media and transport communications,” the advisor, MP Anton Gerashchenko, said.
In any event, the timing is inauspicious: Wednesday is Ukraine’s constitution day.
Photo credit: Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images