How the tech community has rallied to Ukraine’s cyber-defence

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As the conflict in Ukraine escalates, expert cyber-watchers have been speculating about the kind of cyber-attacks that Russia might conduct. Will the Kremlin turn off Ukraine’s power grid, dismantle Ukraine’s transport system, cut off the water supply or target the health system? Or would cybercriminals operating from Russia, who could act as proxies for the Russian regime, conduct these activities?

Over the past decade, Ukraine has experienced many major cyber-attacks, most of which have been attributed to Russia. From election interference in 2014, which compromised the central electoral system and jeopardised the integrity of the democratic process; to a hack and blackout attack in a first-of-its-kind fully remote cyber-attack on a power grid in 2015, resulting in countrywide power outages; to one of the costliest malicious software attacks, NotPetya, in 2017, which significantly disrupted access to banking and government services in Ukraine and, subsequently, spilled over to France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Russia, the UK, the US and Australia.

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Telecoms ministers from the 27 EU countries want the European Commission to set up a cybersecurity emergency response fund to counter large-scale cyberattacks, citing the recent attacks against Ukraine, according to an EU document.

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