Russian cyberattacks

June 23, 2022
A computer coding screen.

… as a coalition of countries has come together to defend Ukraine, Russian intelligence agencies have stepped up network penetration and espionage activities targeting allied governments outside Ukraine.

Microsoft Corp. in a new research report outlining Russian cyberattacks. The U.S. was targeted more than any other country outside of Ukraine, though most attacks have been unsuccessful.

Why It Matters: Since the war in Ukraine began in February, the U.S. has warned of Russian cyberattacks. The new report published by Microsoft shows that cyberattacks have increased throughout the past few months and mostly target Ukraine and NATO members (specifically government agencies, think tanks, humanitarian groups, etc.). About 30% of the alleged attacks have compromised their targets.

  • What do cyberattacks look like? Russian hackers have targeted Ukraine's computer networks — wiping information from systems and replicating and/or spreading malware among government and private computer systems. According to Microsoft's report, the "first shots fired" in the war were actually the cyberattacks launched against Ukraine on February 23, one day before Russia's physical invasion.
  • A consistent part of Russia's cyberattacks is the spreading of misinformation online. “Russian cyber influence operations successfully increased the spread of Russian propaganda after the war began by 216 percent in Ukraine and 82 percent in the United States," stated Microsoft in the report.
  • Russia has denied cyberattacks and claim they are being targeted by Western nations. Earlier in June, they released a statement and wrote: "Rest assured, Russia will not leave aggressive actions unanswered. All our steps will be measured, targeted, in accordance with our legislation and international law."
  • Why did Microsoft publish the report? Microsoft products are widely used throughout the world, enabling "unique visibility" regarding hacking groups (WSJ). In the report, Microsoft notes that "visibility into the total number of attacks, the success rate, and in particular the extent of data exfiltration, likely understates the extent of Russian cyber espionage success."

Russia Increased Cyber Espionage Against Countries Supporting Ukraine, Microsoft Says (Wall Street Journal)

Microsoft: Russian cyber spying targets 42 Ukraine allies (Associated Press)

Microsoft says Russia has stepped up cyber espionage against the US and Ukraine allies (CNN)

Microsoft's report

by Jenna Lee,