White House Accuses Russia of Cyberattacks Targeting Ukraine

The White House on Friday accused Russia of being responsible for recent cyberattacks targeting Ukraine’s defense ministry and major banks.

The announcement from Anne Neuberger, the White House’s chief cyber official, was the most pointed attribution of responsibility for cyber intrusions that have unfolded as tensions escalate between Russia and Ukraine.

The attacks this week were of “limited impact” since Ukrainian officials were able to quickly get their networks back online, but it is possible that they were laying the groundwork for more destructive intrusions, Neuberger said.

She said the U.S. had rapidly linked the attacks to Russia and was publicly blaming the Kremlin because of a need to “call out the behavior quickly.” She said there was no intelligence indicating that the U.S. would be targeted by a cyberattack.

Ukrainian officials called Tuesday’s distributed denial of service attacks the worst in the country’s history. But while they definitely disrupted online banking, impeded some government-to-public communications and were clearly intended to cause panic, they were not particularly serious by global or historic standards, said Roland Dobbins, the top engineer for DDoS at the cybersecurity firm Netscout.

“Most DDoS attacks succeed due to the lack of preparation on the part of the defenders,” said Dobbins, adding that most commercial mitigation services designed to counter such attacks would likely have been able to fend off Tuesday’s attacks.

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