Ukraine faces hacking attack, government websites are down

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A number of government websites in Ukraine were down on Friday after a major hacking attack, Ukrainian officials said.

Although it was not immediately clear who was behind the attacks, they came amid heightened tensions with Russia and after talks between Moscow and the West made no significant progress this week.

“As a result of a massive hacking attack, the websites of the State Department and a number of other government agencies are temporarily unavailable. Our specialists are already working to restore the work of IT systems,” Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Oleg Nikolenko wrote on Facebook on Friday.

Nikolenko told The Associated Press it was too early to say who might be behind the attacks. “It’s too early to draw conclusions as investigations are ongoing, but there is a long record of Russian cyberattacks on Ukraine in the past,” he said.

Moscow had previously denied involvement in cyber attacks on Ukraine.

The websites of the country’s Cabinet, seven ministries, the Ministry of Finance, the National Emergency Service and the State Services website, which store Ukrainians’ e-passports and vaccination certificates, were unavailable as a result of Friday’s hack.

The websites contained a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish stating that the Ukrainians’ personal information had been leaked. “Have fear and expect the worst. This is for your past, present and future,” the message read, in part.

The State Service for Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine has stated that no personal data was leaked.

The US estimates that Russia has massed about 100,000 troops near Ukraine, an accumulation that has fueled fears of an invasion. Moscow says it has no plans to attack and rejects Washington’s call for its forces to be withdrawn, saying it has the right to deploy them wherever necessary.

The Kremlin is demanding security guarantees from the West that rule out an eastward expansion of NATO.

Last month Moscow presented draft security documents demanding that NATO deny Ukraine and other former Soviet countries membership and withdraw the alliance’s military operations in Central and Eastern Europe. Washington and its allies have declined to make such pledges but said they are ready for the talks.

High-level talks between Moscow and the US this week, followed by a meeting of Russian-NATO officials and a meeting at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, yielded no immediate progress.

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