Inside Ukraine’s digital war: Deputy minister Bornyakov on resisting with tech, crypto and hacking
Ukraine is in a digital war, facing outside interference in its digital infrastructure. While the challenges are vast, Ukrainian Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation Maksym Bornyakov is leading the charge in defending Ukraine’s digital infrastructure through various means, including technology, cryptography, and hacking.
This article will explore Bornyakov’s strategy and challenges securing the country’s digital infrastructure.
Background of Ukraine’s digital war
Ukraine has a long history of battling digital threats. Still, the cyberwar in this Eastern European country intensified in 2014 when Russia annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea after a revolution and a period of political turmoil. Since then, Ukraine has suffered persistent cyberattacks and efforts to destabilise its infrastructure.
The most recent attack was reported in 2019 when an offensive campaign targeted Ukrainian government websites, banks and media services with phishing emails designed to appear as if they were sent from within the country’s networks. This highlighted how deeply entrenched malicious actors have become in Ukraine’s digital space and demonstrated the sophistication of their tactics.
This attack also revealed Ukraine’s digital infrastructure’s vulnerability to attackers, who can easily exploit weaknesses in implementation and user authentication systems. The challenge now is for IT professionals tasked with protecting critical Ukrainian digital assets to put into place measures that can protect their networks while still allowing legitimate users access. This is no easy task.
Overview of Deputy Minister Bornyakov’s role in securing Ukraine’s digital infrastructure
Vladimir Bornyakov is Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation and is responsible for leading efforts in improving the country’s cybersecurity and digital infrastructure. Since coming into this position in 2019, Mr. Bornyakov has worked diligently to support President Zelensky’s initiative of creating an IT Ukraine by helping to secure computer systems across industries, government organisations, and educational institutions.
Mr. Bornyakov understands the magnitude of his role in implementing a plan to accomplish this goal, including addressing modernization initiatives, developing strong cyber defence policies, increasing investments in digital skills training for citizens, and promoting innovation and technological advances. He also advocates for increased technology integration in key sectors such as banking and education to improve efficiency and effectiveness.
The Deputy Minister is aware that some of the activities associated with achieving these goals may be met with resistance from business leaders and citizens who are reluctant or uncertain about these changes’ implications on their livelihoods. However, despite these obstacles, Mr. Bornyakov remains committed to finding innovative ways to help protect Ukrainian citizens’ online safety while helping modernise the country’s digital infrastructure.
Challenges of Securing Ukraine’s Digital Infrastructure
The digital infrastructure of Ukraine has become a target of multiple threats due to its political situation and unstable security situation. In recent years, the country has faced persistent cyber-attacks from the Russian state and criminal groups.
The Ukrainian government has been taking steps to improve its digital security to keep up with the ever-evolving threats. However, this has led to new challenges and security risks that must be addressed.
This article will explore the challenges of securing Ukraine’s digital infrastructure and how the government attempts to overcome them.
Cyber espionage is a frequently used tactic by malicious actors to infiltrate and monitor computer networks. This attack is increasingly being used against government agencies, businesses and individuals in Ukraine. In recent years, the most threatening and sophisticated campaigns have been perpetrated by the Russia-backed APT28 (Fancy Bear) and Sandworm, two of the most active hacking groups currently operating. These groups use advanced malware capable of collecting sensitive information such as passwords, login credentials and unencrypted emails using a variety of methods such as exploiting known vulnerabilities or spear phishing emails sent to targeted victims.
These groups have also been known to engage in denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on websites hosted within Ukraine or of Ukrainian origin.
In addition to cyber espionage campaigns, Ukrainian entities are also at risk from cyber attacks aimed at stealing money or disrupting already compromised systems. For example, in April 2018 malicious actors targeted banks across Ukraine with ransomware attacks that resulted in stolen funds running into millions of dollars for Ukrainian institutions. Furthermore, hacking campaigns involving distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks have frequently been deployed against government websites and private sector entities to cause significant disruption and monetary loss.
Therefore, organisations operating in Ukraine must build robust security systems that can effectively detect such threats before they can penetrate networks or cause financial damage.
Hacking and Data Breaches
Recent years have seen Ukraine succumb to multiple data breaches and major hacks. One of the most significant breaches was the NotPetya attack in 2017, which caused millions of dollars of damage to both Ukrainian and global organisations and disrupted critical infrastructure and services. Cyber attackers have also targeted Ukrainian financial institutions, government websites, and military networks.
These attacks have taken advantage of outdated software and security practices that characterise Ukraine’s digital infrastructure. As the country’s economy develops, cyber-security threats increase and become more sophisticated. Attackers’ ability to exploit IT network vulnerabilities is a major concern for Ukrainians across all industries.
Thus far, data protection efforts in Ukraine have largely focused on enacting legislation that would define cyber-security procedures for public organisations and institutions. While this is a good first step, more must be done to ensure that private sector companies also take steps towards better cyber defence.
Data breaches pose serious risks for businesses due to their potential cost from physical losses or legal fees related to reputational damage or investigations into the parties responsible for security incidents. Additionally, companies can face long-term effects such as brand damage or customer insolvency due to the costs associated with recovering from an attack or mitigating security flaws that led up to it.
To protect against data breaches, businesses must invest in comprehensive cyber threat intelligence solutions capable of detecting malicious activity on their networks before it can cause harm. In addition, it is essential for Ukrainian organisations – particularly those with limited resources – to create a robust defence strategy that allows them to respond quickly during a crisis and keep ahead of potential future threats by proactively identifying risks through continuous monitoring and analysis of their digital systems.
Crypto-currency theft is one of the biggest challenges securing Ukraine’s digital infrastructure. Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, are digital assets easily stored in a user’s wallet and exchanged for local currency, goods or services. Unfortunately, these currencies can be stolen from wallets as well. Several high-profile crypto-currency theft events have hit the headlines in Ukraine in recent years. In fact, according to statistics from The Security News Agency, approximately USD 150 million worth of crypto-currencies were stolen from Ukrainian wallets in 2018 alone.
Given the high prevalence of crypto-currency theft and cryptojacking activity in Ukraine, organisations must ensure their networks are adequately secured against these threats. This includes deploying robust antivirus solutions; ensuring any payment processing technologies implemented are secure; monitoring all traffic coming into and out of the network; staying informed on the latest developments in cyber security; regularly changing passwords; encrypting sensitive data; conducting regular penetration tests and staff training sessions on cyber security awareness topics. By securing their networks, organisations can protect themselves and their data against these types of attacks.
Deputy Minister Bornyakov’s Strategies
In the digital age, the security of a nation’s digital infrastructure is paramount, and Deputy Minister Bornyakov has been tasked with ensuring the protection of Ukraine’s digital systems. To resist the digital war, he has utilised tech, crypto and hacking strategies in the face of cyberattacks.
In this article, we will explore the strategies employed by Deputy Minister Bornyakov and their effectiveness in fortifying Ukraine’s digital infrastructure.
Strengthening Cyber Security
Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation Oleksandr Bornyakov has led several initiatives to strengthen Ukraine’s cyber security. He is working to create a cohesive cyber security framework that leverages international best-practices to ensure that Ukraine’s digital infrastructure is secure and resilient.
Bornyakov’s initiatives include strengthening the operational agility and capacity of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in its surveillance and investigation capabilities. This includes deploying standardised procedures, essential technology, and necessary personnel to allow SBU to efficiently identify and respond to threats.
In addition, he is working with industry experts to increase the country’s incident response capabilities. This will help establish clear protocols for responding quickly and effectively in the event of a security incident or attack and provide guidance on how citizens should react if their systems are impacted by malicious cyber activity.
Finally, he has led initiatives to improve education about safe online behaviours, raise awareness about the cyber threats citizens may face, and help businesses understand the steps they can take to protect themselves from attack.
Establishing a Cyber Defence Unit
Deputy Minister Bornyakov, with the assistance of the Action Group on Information Security, proposed a strategy to strengthen Ukraine’s security infrastructure by establishing a Cyber Defence Unit. This unit would be charged with managing and administering and expanding cyber security in Ukraine.
To implement this, the Cyber Defence Unit’s main objectives would include:
- Creating a digital inventory of all devices connected to Ukrainian networks.
- Assessing network security measures.
- Creating and maintaining an automated system for regular monitoring and surveillance threat activity and malicious actors.
- Ensuring that all cyber defence equipment is compatible with international standards.
- Introducing state-of-the-art tools for digital defence.
- Providing technical support to all users in need, especially during instances of targeted cyber-attack.
- Providing regular training and education to cybersecurity experts from different agencies on current developments in the field.
Additionally, Deputy Minister Bornyakov elaborated that resources will be allocated towards researching innovative strategies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms employed by machine learning models into defensive strategies. This is expected to help improve detection capabilities by enabling accurate predictions regarding identifying new threats or malicious activities against Ukrainian interests.
Leveraging Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technologies
Deputy Minister Bornyakov has called for Ukrainian companies to step up their use of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies to protect the nation’s digital infrastructure. Cryptocurrency is rapidly gaining traction within the nation and Bornyakov believes that its use could benefit the government by limiting direct digital contact between businesses, thereby cutting off potential threats posed by those with malicious intent.
He envisions that businesses would move their traditional digital banking needs to the more secure blockchain technology, which offers better privacy protection and automatic monitoring of suspicious activity.
In addition, due to its decentralised nature, blockchain technology could also be used by Ukrainian authorities to strengthen citizens’ access rights by deploying distributed ledgers for e-government services like taxation and healthcare provision. By allowing citizens to access government information without exposing themselves to potential cybercriminal interception or fraud-attempts, trust in governmental initiatives is expected to dramatically improve.
As such, Deputy Minister Bornyakov believes in the potential capabilities of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies to protect Ukraine’s digital infrastructure.