Microsoft claims that government organizations, research tanks, companies, and aid organizations in 42 countries that support Ukraine have been the targets of “strategic espionage” by state-backed Russian hackers.
(AP) CLEVELAND — State-backed Russian hackers have been conducting “strategic espionage” on governments, think tanks, companies, and humanitarian organizations in 42 countries that support Kyiv concurrently with relentless cyberattacks against Ukraine, according to a report released by Microsoft on Wednesday.
According to Microsoft President Brad Smith, since the war began, Russian efforts to attack Ukraine’s friends have been effective 29% of the time, with data being stolen in at least 25% of successful network incursions.
NATO members were involved in over two-thirds of the cyber espionage targets. Poland, the largest source of military aid to Ukraine, was the second most important target after the United States. Targeting has increased over the previous two months in Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Turkey.
Estonia stands out as an interesting exception, as Microsoft reported that since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, it has not found any Russian cyber attacks. The usage of cloud computing in Estonia, where intruders are simpler to see, was credited by the corporation. Microsoft stated without naming the other European states that “significant collective defensive flaws remain.”
According to the 28-page report, 12% of the 128 organizations targeted are nongovernmental organizations, usually think tanks or humanitarian groups, while 50% of the 128 organizations targeted are government entities. Telecommunications, energy, and defense companies are further targets.
Microsoft claimed that despite “waves of devastating cyberattacks against 48 unique Ukrainian agencies and enterprises,” Ukraine’s cyber defenses “had proven stronger” overall than Russia’s capabilities. According to the article, Moscow’s military hackers have taken care not to release damaging data-destroying worms that might spread outside of Ukraine, as the NotPetya virus did in 2017.
The frequency of destructive strikes has decreased over the past month as the Russian military has decided to concentrate its attacks in the Donbas region, according to the report “Defending Ukraine: Early Lessons from the Cyber War.” Due to the widespread use of its software and threat detection teams, the Redmond, Washington-based corporation has a distinct perspective on the field.
According to Microsoft, Ukraine has also set a good example for data security. A week before the Russian invasion, Ukraine switched from storing its data locally on servers in government buildings, which made them susceptible to aerial attack, to spreading that data on the cloud, located in data centers throughout Europe.
The research also evaluated Russian disinformation and propaganda aimed at luring citizens of non-aligned nations and “undermining Western solidarity and deflecting criticism of Russian military war crimes.”
According to Microsoft, Russian cyber influence operations “effectively expanded the transmission of Russian propaganda after the war began by 216 percent in Ukraine and 82 percent in the United States,” according to the company’s estimates.
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