Excellent backups are Ukraine’s secret cyber-defense against Russia

The Kremlin-backed cyberattack against satellite communications provider Viasat, which happened on Feb. 24 an hour before Russia invaded Ukraine, was “one of the biggest cyber events that we have seen, perhaps ever, and certainly in warfare,” according to Dmitri Alperovitch, a co-founder and former CTO of CrowdStrike and chair of security-centric think tank Silverado Policy Accelerator.

The primary purpose of the attack was to disrupt Ukrainian communications during the invasion, by wiping the modems’ firmware remotely. It also disabled thousands of small-aperture terminals in Ukraine and across Europe. The attack therefore disrupted satellite connectivity for thousands, and disabled remote monitoring of 5,800 wind turbines in Germany.  

However, the Viasat attack had relatively little impact.

The Russians have seen success worldwide penetrating networks and dropping malware. “However, the Ukrainians are able to rebuild the networks within hours. One thing they have taught us so well – and they certainly have had eight years of practice and suffered from Russian cyber operations – is the importance of resiliency,” Alperovitch said. 

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Topics: Analysis & opinion, Cyberwar, International, Internet
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