Ukrainian PM Blames Russia for German Web Attack

The Ukrainian prime minister has blamed Moscow for a cyber attack on Wednesday against multiple German government websites including the homepage of chancellor Angela Merkel.

It remains unclear whether the attack was a straightforward DDoS or something more sophisticated, but it had the effect of taking down several sites for most of Wednesday, according to reports.

A group calling itself CyberBerkut has already claimed responsibility for the attack – ‘Berkut’ apparently referring to the riot squads used by Ukraine’s former, pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovich.

However, Ukrainian prime minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, has gone one better, effectively blaming the Russian government for the outage.

"I strongly recommend that the Russian secret services stop spending taxpayer money for cyber attacks against the Bundestag and chancellor Merkel's office," he told ZDF TV, according to Reuters.

The attack took place ahead of Yatseniuk’s meeting with Merkel on Wednesday. Moscow is opposed to the Ukrainian administration’s attempts to ally more closely with Europe – a fact which has led to bloody skirmishes on the country's eastern border.

Chris McIntosh, CEO of security and comms firm ViaSat UK, argued that the incident shows cyber attacks have become the “first weapon of choice” for nations involved in low-level conflicts.

“The lines between private, public and military targets are blurring and cyber attacks are now being looked to as an effective way of influencing other countries’ foreign policy,” he added.

“In this new landscape of threats, organizations in all sectors will need to be vigilant against a wider range of threats – not only from countries with significant resources at their disposal and the incentives to use them, but also from others acting in hostile nations’ interests.”

He added that organizations must operate on the assumption that they’ve already been compromised and take steps to minimize the impact of any breach.

“This includes actions such as encrypting data, and ensuring that critical systems can be quickly isolated if they are infected,” he argued.

“Only an all-inclusive and, yes, pessimistic approach will protect against increasingly sophisticated and numerous attacks.”

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