'Massive cyber attack' hits Ukrainian government websites

The attack, the worst one is years, arrives as tensions with Russia mount.

Updated: January 14, 2022 - 8:35am

Ukraine experienced its worst cyber attack in nearly half-a-decade on Friday, an ambush that brought down dozens of government websites for a number of hours.

Authorities have not yet identified the source of the attack, but the incident follows tense negotiations this week between the U.S., NATO, Russia, and Ukraine over the Russian troop buildup on Ukraine's border.

According to Viktor Zhora, Ukraine's deputy head of the state agency in charge of special communication and information protection, at least 70 government agencies were hit including the Foreign ministry, Emergency ministry, State Treasury, and ministerial cabinet. 

A message briefly posted to the Foreign ministry's website read, "Ukrainians! All your personal data has been uploaded to the public network. All data on your computer is being erased and won’t be recoverable. All information about you has become public, fear and expect the worst."

According to Ukraine's state security service, no personal data was actually leaked.

The United States ambassador to NATO, Julianne Smith, said the U.S. would wait "to see what we find out today," adding that proof of a Russian attack would be a sign of renewed aggression against Ukraine, which leaves open the possibility of triggering sanctions against Russia. 

"We are monitoring everything that Russia is going to be doing towards Ukraine. We are attuned to some of the efforts to destabilize Ukraine from within. We all understand that there’s an array of scenarios that could unfold as it relates to what happens between Russia and Ukraine," Smith said.