On the evening of Tuesday, February 15, the websites of multiple Ukrainian organizations within the public and private sector were targeted in a DDoS attack.

About the attack

According to Reuters, the disruptions affected websites belonging to Ukraine’s defense and foreign and culture ministries, as well as two of the nation’s largest banks. For those unfamiliar with DDoS attacks, cyber security firm Kaspersky describes them as:

“Attack[s] that [take] advantage of the specific capacity limits that apply to any network resources – such as the infrastructure that enables a company’s website. The DDoS attack will send multiple requests to the attacked web resource – with the aim of exceeding the website’s capacity to handle multiple requests… and prevent the website from functioning correctly.”

The attack caused some sites to stop functioning entirely, but most of the banking organizations’ main sites stayed online, while users experienced problems with their payment systems and smartphone applications. No information regarding customers’ bank accounts appears to have been accessed, and internal government communication systems remained secure.

Who’s behind it?

Officials say that they don’t yet have enough information to confirm who initiated the harmless attack, but some in the cybersecurity industry are concerned that it could be a distraction from other more malicious acts taking place. Victor Zhora, a top cyber-defense official at the Ukrainian Information Ministry’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security, believes that Russia is responsible, seeking to cause increased instability during this precarious time:

“It is possible that the aggressor resorted to tactics of petty mischief, because his aggressive plans aren’t working overall.”

U.S. officials have indicated that they will assist Ukraine in responding to “Russian digital incursions” if necessary.