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Nato vows cyber deal with Ukraine after 'massive' govt hack

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KYIV: Nato announced on Friday it planned to deepen cyber cooperation with Ukraine after a sweeping attack knocked out key government websites in Kyiv at a time of mounting tensions between Russia and the West over Ukrainian security.

"In the coming days, Nato and Ukraine will sign an agreement on enhanced cyber cooperation, including Ukrainian access to Nato's malware information sharing platform," Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said.

The European Union was also mobilising to aid its close ally after the attacks temporarily brought down sites, including those of the foreign ministry and cabinet.

Kyiv said the damage was limited and held back on apportioning blame but the ex-Soviet country has accused Russians with links to Moscow for previous hits on websites and key infrastructure.

The foreign ministry described the attack that brought down its site and other government portals as "massive".

The targeted sites, including the emergencies ministry, education ministry and cabinet, displayed a message in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish warning Ukrainians that their personal data had been compromised.

"All information about you has become public, be afraid and expect the worst," the message read.

Within hours of the breach early on Friday the SBU security services said access to most hit sites had been restored and that the fallout was minimal.

"The content of sites has not been changed and according to preliminary information no personal data was leaked," the SBU security service said in a statement.


Kyiv did not immediately blame any individual or entities and the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said it was too early "to point the finger at anybody. We don't have proof".

But he added: "You can imagine who did this."

In October 2020, the United States charged six Russians with carrying out cyberattacks on Ukraine's power grid, the 2017 French elections and the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The Justice Department at the time said the six were current or former members of the GRU Russian military intelligence and were also accused of staging a malware attack called "NotPetya" that infected computers of businesses worldwide causing nearly $1 billion in losses.

The latest attack came at a time of high-voltage tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, a close ally of the United States and Europe.

Those ties deepened after Russia in 2014 annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and threw it weight behind pro-Moscow separatists that control sections of the east of the country.

The West has accused Russia of deploying tanks, artillery and about 100,000 soldiers on Ukraine's war-torn eastern border in recent weeks, in what Nato says is preparation for an invasion.

The US ambassador to Nato, Julianne Smith told reporters in Brussels that "we all understand there is an array of scenarios that could unfold as it relates to what's happening between Russia and Ukraine".

"And one is a full scale conventional military attack, and there are other layers to it and we'll have to see what we find out today," she said.

Moscow says it has no plans to invade Ukraine. - AFP

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