#RSAC: Cyber-Attacks on Civilian Infrastructure Should Be War Crimes, says Ukraine Official

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A Ukrainian security official speaking at the RSA Conference has called for cyber-attacks against critical infrastructure to be classed as war crimes.

As the war in Ukraine has evolved, so too have the tactics of Russian cyber-criminals who are now aligning their cyber-attacks to target facilities that are also under kinetic attack by the Russian military. This includes attacks against energy plants.

Ukraine has already convicted some Russian commanders for conducting missile attacks on civilian infrastructure, Illia Vitiuk, head of the department of cyber and information security of the Security Service of Ukraine, said. 

“I do believe that military commanders that are in charge of special forces and special services like the [Russian] GRU or SVR who are responsible for cyber-attacks on civilian infrastructure should also be convicted as war criminals,” he added.

“All of the cyber-attacks we encounter, we take the materials and put them into criminal cases in order to convict people responsible for these attacks,” he said.

Vitiuk emphasized that the targets of these criminal proceedings are not just the people with their hands on the keyboards but also those higher up the chain of command.

However, he noted that it can be very difficult to prove who is responsible, so it is important for them to gather as much information as possible on cyber-criminal actors in Russia.

“We do believe cases about cyber war crimes is something new and they should also go to the International Criminal Court (ICC),” he added.

The Security Service of Ukraine is the body that is responsible for criminal investigation and war crimes.

On physical war crimes that have been carried out in Ukraine, for example the mass civilian graves discovered in towns like Bucha, the FBI is working with US companies and Ukrainian entities to assist investigations.

The Ukrainians Ukrainian army and national police are collecting a lot of digital information that is has documented war crimes across Ukraine’s battlefield, and the FBI has experience of analyzing this kind of data, Alex Kobzanets, assistant legal attaché of the US Embassy Kiev for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) explained.

“The next step is working with US national service providers and transferring that information and obtaining subscriber information and the geolocation information where possible,” Kobzanets said.

The FBI has been working with US providers on how to legally and best obtain information to address the war crime investigation.

This information will also be used to identify spies and Russian collaborators in Ukraine.

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