Russia’s hackers and military went after the same targets in Ukraine, Microsoft says

Russia’s hackers and conventional military have repeatedly launched attacks against Ukraine that seem to have similar objectives, Microsoft said in a report Wednesday.

The findings indicate the Kremlin has consistently and strategically deployed hackers in a supporting role for its larger war efforts.

“Based on our direct engagement with impacted entities in Ukraine, we observed that cyber and kinetic military operations appeared to be directed toward similar military objectives,” the report stated.

As the creator of the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office programs, which are used throughout Ukraine’s government and private sector, Microsoft has broad visibility into attacks on computers there. 

At least six distinct Russian government hacking groups have targeted Ukraine since the invasion began, the report found.

Russia has historically conducted some of the most high-profile cyberattacks in history against Ukraine, including an operation to confuse Ukrainian voters regarding who won the 2014 presidential election and attacks that temporarily knocked out power in parts of Kyiv in 2014 and 2015.

Since Russia’s invasion, Ukraine has not fallen victim to any cyberattacks that are as high-profile as those. Instead, it has faced a steady drumbeat of attacks, including disinformation campaigns, distributed denial-of-service attacks that temporarily knock websites offline, and “wiper” attacks, which infect computer networks and render them inoperable by deleting all files.

Victor Zhora, a top Ukrainian cybersecurity official, said in a news conference held over Zoom on Wednesday that he was aware of instances where Russia had attacked telecommunications companies with combinations of both missiles and cyberattacks.

“Sometimes they correlate with cyberattacks, especially attacks on telecom infrastructure in some areas,” he said. “So if they select some targets in certain regions, they can coordinate this with attacks on internet providers or telecom operators in this region, just to enlarge the effect of the attacks.”

Russia’s various hacker groups have aided its war objectives in a number of ways, Microsoft found.

In the weeks ahead of the invasion, a hacker…