Cyberattack on Ukraine’s telecom giant Kyivstar one of largest ever recorded in Europe

Cyberattack on Ukraine’s telecom giant Kyivstar one of largest ever recorded in Europe

The cyberattack on Kyivstar was one of the most powerful telecom breaches seen in Europe in its entire history.

Oleksandr Fedienko, head of the Cybersecurity Subcommittee of the Verkhovna Rada's Committee on National Security and Defense, said this in an interview with Ukrinform.

"Ukraine – that is, its telecom operator, Kyivstar – suffered one of the most powerful cyberattacks in Europe, that’s for sure, in the entire history of all operators, which led to a temporary halt of all services," he noted.

Answering the question about the versions of the incident with Kyivstar, the MP expressed the opinion that there may be a Russian trace in the cyberattack.

Read also: Air raid alert system disabled after cyberattack on Kyivstar telecom operator

"We don't know what the security rules were when, say, Russian operators, including Beeline, had access to the Kyivstar network," Fedienko said.

The head of the Verkhovna Rada’s Cybersecurity Subcommittee at the Committee on National Security and Defense expressed his opinion about the cyberattack on Kyivstar.

"As for what happened and is happening, I think that one team worked with the channel where information flows and another team may have worked with the core and hardware. But, most likely, they were somehow exposed and the effort was launched to contain damage. And when they realized that they had been exposed, they killed everything," he believes.

Read also: Ukraine’s major mobile operator Kyivstar down

The parliamentarian is convinced that it was no ordinary hackers who were involved in the cyberattack on the telecom operator.

"But Kyivstar did find backups. I don't know where they got them, but they did their job well so we must praise that effort by their team. It’s day three since the attack but they (for the most part - ed.) have restored the network,” Fedienko said.

Answering the question about the damages from the cyber incident, the legislator noted that it is about reputational damages, lost profits, compensatory costs that Kyivstar will incur in order to save face, etc.

"However, if we try to assess in general what this has resulted in for our country, unfortunately, it will be practically impossible," the lawmaker believes.

Answering questions about the possibility of personal data leaks, he said he could neither confirm nor deny that.

The head of the Parliament’s Cybersecurity Subcommittee (Committee on National Security and Defense) provided a number of recommendations on how citizens can protect themselves in the future.

"If we talk about average citizens, I would strongly recommend that people physically have two SIM cards, maybe even three, from all operators. At least then you will always have a data transmission channel, the internet, and you will have instant messengers at hand," he said.

Fedienko said that if someone uses a certain number as a banking one, it should not be their number for social media accounts because if one number is compromised, another will be, too.

"This is both two-factor authentication and corresponding passwords - not 12345 QWERTY, etc., but at least 15 various symbols, signs, and so on. And all passwords must be different. One for the banking number, one for Facebook, and one for Telegram. At least changing passwords everywhere, that’s something that must be done for sure," said the deputy.

Answering questions about the possibility that hackers could bring down all operators in one fell swoop, the lawmaker cast doubts on such a possibility.

"Putting down in all three operators - hypothetically, everything is possible these days, but I don't believe it is possible, really," Fedienko said.

As reported, on the morning of December 12, Ukraine’s major telecom operator Kyivstar was targeted in a powerful cyberattack which led to a massive technical failure. Communication and internet services became unavailable for customers across Ukraine.

The company assured that personal data of subscribers were not compromised. They also promised compensation to subscribers who lost their connection and could not use the operator's services.

The Security Service of Ukraine has initiated criminal proceedings into the cyberattack. One of the versions of the investigation is the direct involvement of Russia’s intelligence agencies.

On December 13, one of Russia’s hacker groups, Solntsepiok, claimed responsibility for the attack on Kyivstar.

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