New form of data wiper malware linked to attack on Viasat

Attack on Viasat satellite internet service blamed on Russia

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An attack that resulted in widespread outages on the Viasat satellite internet service in February has officially been attributed to Russia.

That Russia was likely to blame was always likely given the attack occurred ahead of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, but the finger has now been squarely pointed by the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union. The U.K. National Cyber Security Center said in a statement today that it’s almost certain that Russia was responsible for the cyberattack on Feb. 24.

Though believed to be targeted at the Ukrainian military, the attack also resulted in other customers being affected, including personal and commercial internet users. Wind farms in Europe were also affected.

“This is clear and shocking evidence of a deliberate and malicious attack by Russia against Ukraine which had significant consequences on ordinary people and businesses in Ukraine and across Europe,” U.K Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said.

In a separate statement, the U.S. Department of State also condemned the attack by Russia. Notably, the U.S. statement mentions that Russia had used destructive wiper malware in some of its attacks targeting Ukraine.

Security searchers detailed the use of data wiper malware against the Viasat KA-SAT network in March. The form of wiper malware used, dubbed “AcidRain,” wipes the contents of modems and routers. Viasat has previously denied that any malware was involved in the attack on its network, claiming instead that disruptions were caused by an attack using internet network access.

The EU warned in its statement today that further cyberattacks targeting Ukraine, including against critical infrastructure, could spill over into other countries and cause systemic effects, putting Europe’s citizens’ security at risk.

Working with partners, the EU added that it’s considering further steps to prevent, discourage, detect and respond to such malicious behavior in cyberspace. All three — the U.K., the U.S. and the EU — said they were committed to providing coordinated political, financial and material support to Ukraine to strengthen its cyber resilience.

In a fact sheet, the U.S. Department of State said that such efforts would include direct support to Ukrainian national security and law enforcement partners and technical experts funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, among other efforts.

Image: Viasat

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