Ukraine calls for ‘Cyber ​​United’ in face of Russian attacks


Shchyhol said that after a year of constant Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure, such as energy systems and satellite communications, there is a need for “a space, a cyberspace” shared by countries in the “civilized world.” “. This would almost certainly mean the exclusion of Russia and its allies.

“Cyberattacks will become as powerful or perhaps even more powerful than conventional attacks, and the consequences of cyberattacks are on such a scale that we should not underestimate the effects,” Shchyhol said.

It’s unclear if Ukraine’s allies would support the idea, though Shchyhol said ‘our partners tend to agree with us, the United States first’ on finding space to safely coordinate work on new technologies. A spokesperson for the State Department’s Office of Cyberspace and Digital Policy declined to comment on the idea.

Christopher Painter, who served as the State Department’s cyber coordinator during the Obama and Trump administrations, compared the idea to a “big group of tents” when briefed on the Ukrainian proposal. He noted that comparing it to the United Nations without including all countries “doesn’t really add up.”

“Whether it should be a formal group is up for debate because it might be more nimble and flexible, if it’s informal,” Painter said. “But I agree that increased cooperation and a collective response is absolutely necessary, given the threat, and although we have not been great at this in the past, the invasion of Ukraine has stimulated a collective commitment and unprecedented cooperation from a number of countries.”

The idea of ​​a “Cyber ​​United Nations” is one that comes from a regime that has faced a myriad of Russian-linked cyberattacks over the past year.

A report jointly compiled by SSSCIP and Ukraine’s Economic Security Council – provided first to POLITICO – details the extent to which Russia has launched cyberattacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure in tandem with physical attacks.

Examples include a massive cyberattack on Ukrainian government and banking websites the week of the Russian invasion last February; a cyberattack in March against Ukrainian television stations on the same day that a missile was launched against a television station in Kyiv; and a cyberattack on Lviv City Hall’s website on the same day the city was bombed in May.

Many of the cyberattacks appear to have been carried out in retaliation for actions taken against Russia by Ukraine and its allies. For example, the Polish Senate and European Parliament systems in October and November, respectively, came under attack after votes declaring Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. In August, a “powerful” cyberattack targeted the website of Ukraine’s nuclear energy agency on the same day it published information about potential nuclear radiation resulting from the Russian occupation of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

As a result of these experiences and others, the report pushes not only for the creation of the “Cyber ​​United Nations”, but also for the world to designate cyberattacks that wipe out critical civilian services as war crimes, because of the suffering they can cause. . Additionally, the Ukrainian government wants to change the legal definition of aggression, first defined by the United Nations in 1974, to include the use of cyber weapons.

“Together with our partners, we now have to redefine the techniques, the new methods of warfare, because now the element of cyber defense is included in all kinds of warfare activities,” Shchyhol said.

In addition, as previously reported by POLITICO, Ukrainian authorities are collecting evidence of cyberattacks carried out against critical systems by Russian hackers in order to present it to the International Criminal Court in The Hague as part of a broader investigation. Russian war crimes. According to Shchyhol, this includes the names of individual hackers and cybercriminal groups.

International criminal standards must change in order to convict them, he said.

“Cyberattacks represent an imminent danger and a real danger,” Shchyhol said. “Our academics, our legalists, and their colleagues are trying to make evidence collected in cyberspace and admissible and important in some way.”

Even as Ukraine strives to change international norms on cyber-aggression, the attacks are intensifying. Ukraine’s Computer Emergency Response Team tracked more than 2,000 cyberattacks targeting Ukrainian organizations in 2022, the majority of which targeted civilian services.

This pace is unlikely to slow as the conflict drags on and Russia desperately seeks progress.

“We can say one thing with certainty, with certainty, that we won’t have fewer attacks this year,” Shchyhol said. “We have to think about the targets of such attacks, most likely they will remain the most important critical infrastructure facilities for life in the country.”


Politico

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