Ukraine is at risk of widespread internet loss

by nativetechdoctor
5 minutes read

Just as Russia began conducting a military operation in Ukraine, the network around Kharkiv, the city located in the northeast, the second largest of Ukraine and only 25km from Russia, crashed, raising many concerns. widespread internet outage in this country.

Back in January 2022, Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, was plunged into chaos when public anger reached its zenith over the government’s decision to skyrocket energy prices. Faced with that, Kazakhstan’s leaders made a drastic decision to quell the protests: shutting down the internet.

According to Daily New York, what happened in Almaty provides a glimpse into the future of Ukraine, when the telecommunications network, including the internet, is expected to be one of the most important. target when fighting breaks out.

Early signs

Just last week, the Ukrainian government said that the websites of two banks, the Ministry of Defense and the country’s armed forces were suddenly interrupted for a short time caused by a series of denial-of-service attacks. (DDoS). According to Ukrainian officials, these are the largest cyberattacks in the country’s history and “have traces of foreign intelligence agencies”.

And just yesterday (February 24, local time), when the first signs of military conflict appeared, similar but larger denial of service attacks took place and targeted this time are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Internal Affairs, the Security Service, and the Cabinet of Ministers, and the two largest state-owned banks of Ukraine – Privatbank, and Oschadbank.

“The websites of a number of government agencies and banking institutions have experienced a major DDoS attack again. Some of the hacked information systems are unavailable or operate intermittently,” the Information Protection Department said. and Special Communications (SSCIP) of Ukraine said.

Currently, the SSCIP is working with other Ukrainian national cybersecurity agencies “to work against attacks, to collect and analyze information”.

SSCIP predicts not only attacks on government and banking networks, the possibility of direct attacks on internet infrastructure, the use of cyber weapons to disable telecommunications infrastructure. through this country. On February 17, several mobile networks in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border reported an outage of internet service and the event served as a warning for the loss of lives in the event of war.

As noted by Georgia Tech’s Internet Outage Analysis and Detection (IODA) Project, the internet service provider system of Triolan, a major internet service provider in Ukraine, experienced a “partial” problem. ”, which begins just before midnight on February 23 and lasts until the morning of February 24. This loss of life has taken place centered around Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, located in the northeast and about 25km from the Russian border.

Although Triolan has posted a notice that most internet service has been restored, responses indicate that customers are still experiencing severe network problems.

In modern conflicts, control of the internet is a crucial part as it holds the roles of communication and propaganda. Access , an international nonprofit group dedicated to tracking these events, in 2020 there were at least 155 internet outages in 29 countries. Through the period January – May 2021, the number of incidents recorded was 50, spanning 21 countries.

In November 2021, the Sudanese authorities shut down the internet for nearly a month to suppress the ongoing protests. At about the same time, another African country, Burkina Faso, also ordered telecommunications companies to turn off mobile internet for more than a week “in the face of national security concerns”.

Turning off the Internet completely in Ukraine is not easy?

Unlike Kazakhstan, where the government has the power to use national security laws to force companies to disconnect, shutting down internet systems in Ukraine must be done by the private operator. This work will be quite complicated and laborious when this country has more than 2,000 internet service providers.

Max Tulyev, the owner of NetAssist, a small internet service provider in Ukraine, said his company is prepared to do everything to stay afloat. Specifically, NetAssist established links with other internet network operators and attempted to route connections around popular locations that could be targeted by military forces. At the same time, a backup network center has been prepared, in addition to a series of satellite phones to ensure smooth communication between employees in the event of a network failure.

However, telecommunications services were disrupted in eastern Ukraine, where fighting broke out with Russian-backed separatists last Thursday evening (February 17). Although telecommunications were quickly restored on Friday morning, Ukrainian authorities described it as “purposeful sabotage”.

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