Russian hacking in Ukraine has been extensive and intertwined with military operations, Microsoft says

“Russia’s use of cyberattacks appears to be strongly correlated and sometimes directly timed with its kinetic military operations,” said Tom Burt, a Microsoft vice president.

The Microsoft report is the most comprehensive public record yet of Russian hacking efforts related to the war in Ukraine. It fills in some gaps in public understanding of where Russia’s vaunted cyber capabilities have been deployed during the war.
Burt cited a cyberattack on a Ukrainian broadcast company on March 1, the same day as a Russian missile strike against a TV tower in Kyiv, and malicious emails sent to Ukrainians falsely claiming the Ukrainian government was “abandoning” them amid the Russian siege of the city of Mariupol.

Suspected Russian hackers “are working to compromise organizations in regions across Ukraine,” and may have been collecting intelligence on Ukrainian military partnerships many months before the full-scale invasion in February, the Microsoft report says.

Russia’s military attacks on Ukraine sometimes “correlate with cyberattacks, especially when it involves attacks on telecom infrastructure in some areas,” Victor Zhora, a senior Ukrainian government cyber official, told reporters Wednesday.

In the weeks after Russia’s latest invasion of Ukraine, some pundits and US officials were surprised that there hadn’t been more noticeably disruptive or debilitating Russian cyberattacks on the country. Possible explanations ranged from disorganization in Russian military planning to hardened Ukrainian defenses, to the fact that bombs and bullets take precedence over hacking in wartime.

But a barrage of alleged Russian and Belarusian hacks aimed at destabilizing Ukraine has indeed taken place, with some hacks emerging weeks after they took place. Some hacking attempts have been more successful than others.

A multi-faceted cyberattack at the onset of the war knocked out internet service for tens of thousands of satellite modems in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe; US officials are investigating the incident as a potential Russian state-sponsored hack, CNN previously reported.
Earlier this month, a Russian military-linked hacking group targeted a Ukrainian power substation in a hack that, had it…