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Ukraine asks EU to send in cyber forces

The Ukrainian government has asked the European Union to send in cyber military officials to fight cyberattacks and disinformation from Russia, according to a letter seen by POLITICO.

Ukraine would “welcome deployment to Kyiv of the EU cyber rapid response team” to evaluate “vulnerabilities of our key computer networks and systems,” the country’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote to EU leaders. Kuleba also requested “additional technical equipment and software for strengthening the cybersecurity infrastructure” from the EU, citing “the ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

The letter, dated February 18, was sent to the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and EU Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi, ahead of a meeting of European foreign affairs ministers in Brussels on Monday, where Kuleba is also joining the discussion.

Kyiv’s plea for cyber reinforcements followed two major attacks on Ukrainian government networks in recent weeks. In mid-January, hackers posted messages on government websites and spread malware to wipe out data. Government websites were also taken down by an avalanche of traffic targeted at them last week, which Ukrainian security services called the “largest-ever” attack of its kind in the country.

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The EU’s cyber rapid response team is a group of cybersecurity experts from six European countries — Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and Romania — that can provide assistance to countries under cyberattack, including non-EU countries, upon request. The project, which falls under the EU’s defense cooperation program PESCO, includes a team of 8 to twelve civilian-military officials specialized in cybersecurity. It would be the team’s first deployment.

Ukrainian officials need to meet with the six countries involved in the team next, to map out how many officials the EU should send and where to come to Kyiv’s aid.

The country has faced a barrage of major cyberattacks in recent years, many of which were attributed to Russian security services by Ukrainian as well as Western officials. The country suffered attacks on its elections in 2014 and on its energy grids in 2015 and 2016. The country was also the epicenter of a global malware outbreak known as “NotPetya” that quickly spread across the world, crippling multinationals like the Danish shipping giant Maersk, logistics giant FedEx, pharma company Merck and others.

Borrell already suggested the EU could offer cybersecurity support in mid-January, saying the bloc would “mobilize all [its] resources to help Ukraine to face these cyberattacks.” “One can figure” who is behind the strike against the government’s digital infrastructure, Borrell added, hinting at Russia.

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https://ift.tt/CuxWqsp February 21, 2022 at 04:39PM
Laurens Cerulus

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