U.K. Foreign Secretary, James Cleverly, has revealed that the U.K. provided a £6.35 million support package to Ukraine to help protect its critical national infrastructure and vital public services from cyber attacks.
The U.K.’s ‘Ukraine Cyber Programme’ was mobilized shortly after Putin’s invasion in February to protect against increased Russian cyber attacks. The program has not been made public until now to protect its operational security.
Utilizing the expertise of leading cybersecurity providers, the program has to date provided incident response support to Government of Ukraine entities, protecting them against destructive cyber attacks, including malware such as Industroyer2. This is preventing malicious actors from accessing vital information relevant to the war effort. The program has also limited attacker access to vital networks and supported Ukraine to harden their critical infrastructure against future attacks. In addition, the U.K. has delivered frontline cybersecurity hardware and software including firewalls to prevent attacks taking hold; DDoS protection to ensure Ukrainian citizens can continue to access vital information; and forensic capabilities to enable Ukrainian analysts to fully understand system compromises.
“Russia’s attack on Ukraine is not limited to its horrific land invasion.” James Cleverly said. “It has also persistently attempted to invade Ukraine’s cyberspace, threatening critical information, services and infrastructure.”
The Foreign Secretary said that the U.K.’s support to Ukraine is not limited to military aid. “We are drawing on Britain’s world-leading expertise to support Ukraine’s cyber defenses. Together, we will ensure that the Kremlin is defeated in every sphere: on land, in the air and in cyberspace.”
Lindy Cameron, CEO of the National Cyber Security Centre, said the center is proud to have played a part in supporting Ukraine’s cyber defenders. “They have mounted an impressive defense against Russian aggression in cyberspace, just as they have done on the physical battlefield. The threat remains real and the U.K.’s support package is undoubtedly bolstering Ukraine’s defenses further.”
Russian actors have a long history of hostile and destabilizing activity against Ukraine, including:
- Shutting off part of Ukraine’s electricity grid in December 2015, leaving 230,000 people without power for up to six hours.
- Destructive cyber attacks in 2017 targeting Ukraine’s finance and energy sectors and government services, leading to knock-on effects on other European partners.
- Kyiv metro and Odessa airport disrupted by ransomware that encrypted hard drives.
- DDoS attacks on February 15-16, 2022, which the National Cyber Security Centre judged were the work of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency.
- A series of cyber attacks since the invasion, including against commercial operators such as Viasat in March which had a serious impact on access to internet and other services across both Ukraine and other parts of Europe.
The tempo of Russian cyber attacks against Ukraine increased significantly following its illegal invasion in February 2022, seeking to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty and strategic advantage in the war.