The Russian government may intensify its cyber attacks against Ukraine and foreign countries offering Kyiv military and political support, Microsoft Corp. has warned.
In a post on the company’s “On the Issues” blog Saturday, Clint Watts, the General Manager of Microsoft’s Digital Threat Analysis Center, urged its customers to prepare against coordinated cyber attacks on Ukrainian critical infrastructure and cyber operations targeting foreign companies and countries providing aid and weaponry to Kyiv amid the war.
“We should be prepared for the possibility that Russian military intelligence actors’ recent execution of a ransomware-style attack—known as Prestige—in Poland may be a harbinger of Russia further extending cyberattacks beyond the borders of Ukraine,” Watts wrote in the post.
“We believe these recent trends suggest that the world should be prepared for several lines of potential Russian attack in the digital domain over the course of this winter. Such cyber operations may target those countries and companies that are providing Ukraine with vital supply chains of aid and weaponry this winter,” he added.
Watts also noted that the cyber attacks are intended to “undermine U.S., EU, and NATO political support for Ukraine” and shake the “confidence and determination” of Ukrainian citizens.
Microsoft’s report comes nearly 10 months after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine. Throughout the brutal war, Russia has reportedly hacked several Ukrainian satellite systems, energy companies and other critical infrastructure.
The NATO alliance said earlier that it had also seen evidence of Russia coordinating physical strikes with its cyber attacks.
“We’ve seen cyber being used in conjunction with kinetic attacks, so whilst the military infrastructure was hit physically, it was also hit by cyberattacks,” David van Weel, NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges, said in a virtual briefing last Friday, as quoted by POLITICO.
Microsoft earlier blamed a hacking group that, according to the U.S. Justice Department, worked on behalf of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency for an October attack on Polish and Ukrainian transportation and logistics companies. The group was behind the 2015 and 2016 attacks that caused power outages in parts of Ukraine.
The October attack saw limited success, impacting “less than 20% of one targeted organization’s network.” However, the hackers most likely managed to collect “intelligence on supply routes and logistics operations that could facilitate future attacks,” according to Microsoft.