BOSTON — Cyberattacks by state-backed Russian hackers have destroyed data across dozens of organizations in Ukraine and produced “a chaotic information environment,” Microsoft says in a report released Wednesday.
Nearly half the destructive attacks were against critical infrastructure, many times simultaneous to physical attacks, the report notes.
A top Ukrainian cybersecurity official, Victor Zhora, told reporters in a news briefing on Wednesday that cyberattacks on telecommunications have sometimes coincided with artillery and other physical attacks.
Microsoft assessed that Russia-aligned threat groups were “pre-positioning for the conflict as early as March 2021,” hacking into networks to obtain footholds they could later use to collect “strategic and battlefield intelligence or to facilitate future destructive attacks.”
During the war, Russia’s cyberattacks “have at times not only degraded the functions of the targeted organizations but sought to disrupt citizens’ access to reliable information and critical life services, and to shake confidence in the country’s leadership,” the company’s Digital Security Unit says in the 20-page report.
Kremlin cyber operations “have had an impact in terms of technical disruption of services and causing a chaotic information environment, but Microsoft is not able to evaluate their broader strategic impact,” the report says.