Microsoft reveals details of a cyber attack on Ukrainian government networks

Microsoft said late Saturday that dozens of computer systems in an unspecified number of Ukrainian government agencies were infected with destructive malware disguised as ransomware.

Ransomware is malicious software that restricts access to the computer system it infects, and demands that a ransom be paid so that the owner of the computer can access the files. It was not immediately clear how much damage these malicious programs caused.

Microsoft said in a short blog post that it first discovered the malware on Thursday, coinciding with the attack that temporarily shut down nearly 70 government websites.

In another technical post, Microsoft stated that the affected systems “cover many governmental, non-profit and IT organizations.”

“The malware is disguised as ransomware, but if activated by the attacker, it will render the infected computer system inoperable… In short, it will lack a ransom recovery mechanism.”

The attack comes at a time when tensions escalate over Ukraine amid Western allegations of the proximity of the “brother of Russia” to that country, allegations that Moscow categorically denies.

Earlier, Ukraine claimed that it had “initial indications confirming the involvement of Russian intelligence services in a large-scale cyber attack targeting several of its ministries.”

For his part, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, in an interview with CNN, denied that Russia had any connection to the cyber attacks that targeted Ukrainian government sites, and described the accusations against Moscow in this regard as “baseless.”

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