December 8, 2022

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Hackers Reused Computer Routers for Attacks on Ukrainian, European Websites

Cyberattacks on Ukrainian and Finnish government websites in February and April were likely launched by the same Russia-aligned hacker group that so far hasn’t had very damaging effects, researchers say.

A cyberattack that took down the website of Ukraine’s postal service last month used techniques that appeared similar to ones used in attacks on Ukrainian government ministries and banks in February and in an attack on Finland’s parliament in April, according to SecurityScorecard, a cybersecurity company.

A hacker group known as Killnet has taken credit for recent cyberattacks on the websites of government offices in several countries that are supporting Ukraine, including the Czech Republic and Romania. Romania’s cybersecurity agency said there was an increase on Tuesday in the number of IP addresses used to launch denial of service attacks on Romanian websites.

Hackers behind the attacks seem to now be running out of new computer bots to use to launch attacks and are reusing computer routers, said Ryan Slaney, a threat researcher at SecurityScorecard. He said he is investigating whether there are connections between the website attacks in Ukraine and Finland and the Killnet group.

The attack on the postal service, known as a denial-of-service attack, was launched in part using computer infrastructure based in Russia that hadn’t been present in the other incidents, in addition to bots used in previous attacks, Mr. Slaney said. It is easier for cybersecurity experts to defend against cyberattacks when hackers reuse computer infrastructure, he added. Companies can block the addresses used in previous attacks.

The hacks on Ukrainian websites haven’t been as effective as the attackers likely intended, Mr. Slaney said. So far, Ukrainian cybersecurity officials have been able to fend off attacks and restore services quickly after disruptions, in part because Russian hackers have been testing different techniques on Ukrainian infrastructure for years, he added.

“There’s not very much Ukraine cyber defense hasn’t seen coming from the Russian side, and they were able to adequately prepare for that,” he said.