Ukraine's largest mobile network goes down after massive cyberattack

Mobile network mast
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

A cyberattack has taken down Ukraine’s largest telecom operator, Kyivstar, with millions now unable to access the internet or make calls.

The attack so far appears to be an act of sabotage, as the telecom company posted an alert on social media stating that customer data had not been compromised, indicating the attack was not ransomware related.

The telecom network was shut down by security services in an attempt to “localize” the attack, and the company stated that it is working to re-establish the network.

 SIM switching increasing network loads 

Rather than waiting for Kyivstar to restore the network, many Ukrainians instead bought new SIM cards from other network providers such as Vodafone and Lifecell. However, the sudden increase in new devices operating on these networks caused some Lifecell services to go down, and Vodafone reported that its network usage had increased by 30%.

A number of other services, such as banking and payment processing, also went down as a result of the attack as many payment devices such as ATMs use a SIM card for connectivity. Kyivstar commented on the outages stating that the disruption caused is not “massive.”

There is currently no indication of who was behind the attack, however Ukraine has suffered an increasing number of cyber attacks from Russian-speaking cyber gangs since Russia’s annexation of Crimea and subsequent invasion. Speaking to Ukrainian media, Ukraine’s security service, known as the SBU, stated that they suspect Russian intelligence services were behind the attack.

Hacktivists on both sides of the war have claimed responsibility for a number of cyber attacks on both Ukrainian and Russian networks and energy infrastructure. Russian-speaking cyber groups have also increased attacks against nations supplying aid to Ukraine in an attempt to disrupt supplies and increase the cost of supporting Ukraine.

The attack also brought down a number of mobile missile warning systems, leaving around 75 settlements around Kyiv without early warning of missile strikes.

Via TheRecord

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Benedict Collins
Staff Writer (Security)

Benedict Collins is a Staff Writer at TechRadar Pro covering privacy and security. Before settling into journalism he worked as a Livestream Production Manager, covering games in the National Ice Hockey League for 5 years and contributing heavily to the advancement of livestreaming within the league. Benedict is mainly focused on security issues such as phishing, malware, and cyber criminal activity, but he also likes to draw on his knowledge of geopolitics and international relations to understand the motives and consequences of state-sponsored cyber attacks.

He has a MA in Security, Intelligence and Diplomacy, alongside a BA in Politics with Journalism, both from the University of Buckingham. His masters dissertation, titled 'Arms sales as a foreign policy tool,' argues that the export of weapon systems has been an integral part of the diplomatic toolkit used by the US, Russia and China since 1945. Benedict has also written about NATO's role in the era of hybrid warfare, the influence of interest groups on US foreign policy, and how reputational insecurity can contribute to the misuse of intelligence.

Outside of work Ben follows many sports; most notably ice hockey and rugby. When not running or climbing, Ben can most often be found deep in the shrubbery of a pub garden.