Tag Archives: Ukraine

NATO Websites Suffer Downtime after Cyber Attack

Several public NATO websites suffered downtime after being successfully targeted in a cyber-attack which has been traced back to the Ukraine.

A group who go by the name ‘Cyber Berkut’ stated that they were behind the attack as they aren’t happy with NATO’s interference in Ukrainian affairs.

A statement released on their website read, “We, Cyber Berkut, announce that today at 6:00 p.m. we started the cyberattack on NATO resources. We, Cyber Berkut, will not allow the presence NATO occupation on the territory of our homeland, because it opposes NATO intervention in Ukraine.”

The main NATO website was affected along with a cyber-security centre in Estonia which is linked to the alliance. NATO has yet to confirm the source of the attack but have claimed that none of their essential systems had been compromised.

A spokeswoman for the alliance Oana Lungescu stated, “Our experts working to restore normal function. No operational impact … The attack hasn’t affected the integrity of Nato’s systems.”

John Bumgarner who is the chief technology officer at the US Cyber Consequences Unit claims that all of the evidence that has been collected so far, points in the direction of pro-Russian sympathisers being behind the attacks.

Bumgarner stated, “One could equate these cyber attacks against Nato as kicking sand into one’s face.”

Tensions between Russia and the West have intensified ever since Russian forces entered Ukrainian territory in the Crimea region after former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown.

Ukrainian and Russian websites have both been targets for cyber-attacks in recent weeks but this appears to be the first major attack on a Western website since the crisis began.

Ukraine IT outsourcing industry at risk from crisis

The crisis in Ukraine has recently escalated to what William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary, has called “Europe’s biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century”. This announcement came after Russian troops moved across the border to occupy several military bases on Ukrainian soil. The Western powers, including the USA and major partners in the EU, have jumped to express their support for the new Ukrainian government, and have strongly criticised the aggression shown by Russia. In response to the occupation by Russian troops, Russia has been threatened with economic and political actions with the aim of isolating it from the international community. Despite mobilisation of troops by Russia, military intervention does seem unlikely, although not impossible.

As the crisis gradually unfolds, it is becoming easier to see how Ukraine will be affected. One area which may suffer is the country’s IT outsourcing industry, which has a value of roughly £1 bn per annum. For several years now Ukraine has been a technology hub, although relatively unknown to Western Europe, with its first ventures into IT taking place under the former USSR. Over the years this has been built into a skilled workforce, with 30,000 students graduating in IT related subjects each year, and a good infrastructure across the country, for example broadband speeds are similar to the UK’s. 

The billion pound industry is helped by several incentives, such as low corporation tax for IT companies, lower wage demands by the Ukrainian workforce and several organisations, such as the Ukrainian HI-Tech Initiative setup with the purpose of promoting Ukrainian IT interests. As well as a high number of IT graduates, Ukraine already has a large skilled workforce, with 25,000 specialised IT workers and 1,000 outsourcing companies.

Ukraine has recently announced that conscription has been initiated, presumably in preparation for a conflict with Russia. This could pose a very real problem for the IT workforce in Ukraine, as many of the employees are the type of person that would be conscripted (young male adults). However unlikely, if a conflict between the Ukraine and Russia did break out, it could have a detrimental effect on the IT outsourcing industry.

What is certain is the longer this crisis goes on, the longer Ukraine will suffer as a whole. As military action is not preferred, the main weapons available to the West are diplomatic and economic sanctions against Russia. However, any economic action will surely affect the IT industry in some form. Hopefully, the IT industry will be able to withstand whatever comes as a result of this crisis, one way or another.

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