The attackers may have broken into the electrical company’s systems as early as February, Ukrainian officials said, but they emphasized that some details of the attack, including how the intruders made their way into the company’s systems, were not yet known.
Officials declined to name the company that suffered the breach and the region its substations are in, citing fears of continuing cyberattacks.
“It is self-evident that the aggressor’s team, the malefactors, had enough time to get prepared very thoroughly and they planned the execution on a sophisticated, high-quality level,” said Victor Zhora, the deputy head of Ukraine’s cybersecurity agency, the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection. “It looks that we have been very lucky that we were able to respond in a timely manner to this cyberattack.”
Ukrainian companies in finance, media and energy have been subject to regular cyberattacks since the war began, according to Mr. Zhora. His agency said that since Russia’s invasion began, it had recorded three times as many attacks as it had tracked in the previous year.
The use of wiper malware has become a persistent problem in Ukraine since the war began, with attacks hitting Ukrainian critical infrastructure, including government agencies responsible for food safety, finance and law enforcement, cybersecurity researchers said.
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments
Hackers have also broken into communications systems, including satellite communication services and telecom companies. Investigations into those breaches are continuing, although cybersecurity analysts and U.S. officials believe Russia is responsible. Other hacking groups, including one affiliated with Belarus, have broken into media companies’ systems and social media accounts of high-profile military officials, trying to spread disinformation that claimed Ukraine planned to surrender.
“They are targeting critical infrastructure; however, these attempts were not so sophisticated as compared to today’s recent attack,” Mr. Zhora said of the recent hacking campaigns against Ukrainian companies.