Ukraine's defence ministry has said that its website was knocked offline due to cyberattacks with the intent to prevent updates on the pro-Russian separatist conflict in the European country's eastern regions. Spokesman Oleksandr Motuzyanyk said the ministry's site was constantly targeted by DDoS attacks, not all of which were able to affect its operations.
"The purpose of the attacks was to prevent Ukraine's defence ministry from being able to inform the public," Motuzyanyk said, Reuters reports. He said it was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack, but noted that the situation was under control.
Last week, Ukranian financial institutions, including the ministry of finance, state treasury and pension fund, were hit with cyberattacks that the country's finance ministry described as a "coordinated professional hacking attack" aimed at derailing the budget process.
The agency said the cyberattack damaged network equipment, adding that the finance ministry's and state treasury service's websites were not working at the time, Interfax-Ukraine reported last week. The malware used in the attacks was reportedly similar to those used in the massive 2015 cyberattacks targeting the country's power companies and Kiev's Boryspil airport.
In December 2015, Ukraine's power grid suffered a massive, cyberattack that left 225,000 residents of western Ukraine temporarily without electricity. The first-of-its-kind attack on civilian infrastructure sparked serious concerns that the attack could lead to more "opportunistic hackers" targeting critical national infrastructure with similar attacks.
In February, Ukraine's energy ministry said the hackers used a Russian-based internet provider to target three power distribution companies and flood their call centres with fake phone calls to prevent actual customers from reporting the outage.
Security firm Trend Micro researchers said the software used to infect the Ukrainian facilities was also found in the networks of a Ukranian mining company as well as a rail company.
"While the motivation for the said attacks has been the subject of heavy speculation, these appear to be aimed at crippling Ukrainian public and critical infrastructure in what could only be a politically motivated strike," Trend Micro said at the time.