On the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion, Ukraine commemorates horrific losses – and remarkable resistance.
The country’s fierce resistance on the battlefield is reflected on the digital front, where Kiev has a unique experience. The conflict with Russia has become the world’s first all-out cyber war, other than Ukraine was a test bed for digital weapons long before the February 24, 2022 invasion. Since Putin’s troops flooded the border, cyber tactics have changed dramatically.
These developments have made Ukraine a benchmark for digital warfare. And to analysts’ surprise, cyberattacks have had limited impact over the past year.
“We are going to see cyberactivity as a pre-emptive tactic for physical war.
Leading up to the invasion, cyber-attacks were prominent. On February 15, Russian hackers launched the most powerful DDoS attack in the history of Ukraine. A day before the large-scale invasion, several government and banking websites were hit again.
“In the future, we’re going to see cyberactivity as a preemptive tactic for physical war … it’s a tool to weaken a target before it moves in,” he said.
Meanwhile, the government of Ukraine claims that Russia’s goals have changed. In a January report, security officials said the cyberattacks initially targeted Ukraine’s communications arm, which aimed to disrupt military and government operations. But after Russia’s first defeat at the front, the focus shifted to maximizing damage to civilians.
In particular, the officials thought so all attacks had used previously known techniques.
“The attacks used by Russia have long been categorized and have clear solutions to counter,” the report’s authors said.
Many analysts expected cyberattacks to become more frequent and devastating. Adam MeiersHead of Intelligence at security company CrowdStrike, believes that Russia had expected a quick and decisive victory. As a result, the Kremlin may have initially avoided destructive cyber attacks, as it would have needed Ukrainian infrastructure to support a friendly government.
“When Russian operations failed to take Kiev and advance as quickly as planned, we saw more tactical cyber operations accompanied by kinetic effects targeting Ukraine and we did not see broad-based strikes against the West – as we had all prepared,” said Meyers.
The modest impact of Russian cyber weapons has not been in vain. In January, Viktor Zhora, a senior figure in Ukraine’s cybersecurity service, said that cyber-attacks in the country had tripled last year. Zhora wants the digital attacks To be prosecuted as war crimes.
Despite the attack, UKraine’s networks have remained remarkably resilient. analysts give a lot of credit for Ukraine’s repair crews, the widespread connectivity to networks outside the country and the sheer number internet exchange points.
Some experts argue that digital weapons are simply less effective than physical warfare, while others believe in Russia’s capabilities were overrated.
Another factor is Ukraine’s continued efforts to strengthen its defenses. The protracted conflict with Russia has provided vast experience in reducing cyber-attacks.
“This has made us stronger,” Zhora said last year. “We have learned our lessons from this cyber-aggression.”
More lessons will follow, but Ukraine already has a lot to teach its allies about cyber warfare.