Kremlin to be defeated in every sphere as UK pledges £6m for cyber

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The UK has warned that Russia will be defeated in “every sphere” as it ramps up its cyber protection. Britain has pledged £6million to bolster Ukraine’s cyber defences through a scheme which will see private contractors protect Kyiv from attacks on key databases and infrastructure. Russian hacker groups including the FSB-linked Armageddon and GRU-linked ATPU28, also known as Fancy Bear, have been targeting Ukraine throughout the war.

Hacking group TURLA – considered Putin’s stealthiest cyber force – has also launched attacks on Ukraine.

Leo Docherty, Europe minister at the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), warned that Ukraine has been facing a “daily onslaught” of cyber attacks.

The groups are focused on “high-value targets” to gain crucial and compromising information to further Russia’s war effort.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the UK’s “support to Ukraine is not limited to military aid”, adding: “We are drawing on Britain’s world-leading expertise to support Ukraine’s cyber defences.”

He continued: “Together, we will ensure that the Kremlin is defeated in every sphere – on land, in the air and in cyberspace.”

Lindy Cameron, chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre – an arm of the intelligence agency GCHQ – said the organisation is “proud to have played a part in supporting Ukraine’s cyber defenders”.

She added: “They have mounted an impressive defence against Russian aggression in cyberspace, just as they have done on the physical battlefield.

“The threat remains real and the UK’s support package is undoubtedly bolstering Ukraine’s defences further.”

Russia has repeatedly dismissed claims it has carried out cyber attacks.

But those involved in defending Ukraine from cyber attacks have said they represent the most extensive compromise of a single government seen in history.

The cyber attacks have increased in intensity and frequency since the second half of last year, in the lead-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking about the UK’s response to the cyber attacks, Mr Docherty said: “We brought some of our expertise to bear on helping them defend from what has been a daily onslaught of cyber attacks from Russia since the start of the invasion.”

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He added: “We’ve seen on a daily basis now the terrible images of the way that the electrical grid in Ukraine has been battered by ballistic strikes and drone strikes from the Russians – they face the same threat and same challenge in the cyber domain.

Sources close to the UK programme, which includes extensive private sector support, told the BBC they saw waves of attacks, sometimes using innovative techniques.

Russian cyber attacks have had a number of major impacts on Ukraine’s infrastructure over the last decade.

In December 2015, they resulted in shutting off part of Ukraine’s electricity grid, leaving 230,000 people without power for up to six hours.

Destructive cyber attacks in 2017 targeted Ukraine’s finance and energy sectors and government services, meanwhile, Kyiv metro and Odesa airport have been disrupted by ransomware.

There have also been a series of cyber attacks since the invasion, including attacks on commercial operators such as Viasat in March.

The attack had a serious impact on access to internet access and other services across both Ukraine and other parts of Europe.

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