Hacked Ukraine saved by “cloud”

The Denver Post - - BUSINESS - By Raphael Satter Efrem Lukatsky, The As­so­ci­ated Press

BORYSPIL, UKRAINE» When de­par­ture in­for­ma­tion dis­ap­peared from Kiev air­port’s web­site af­ter last week’s cy­ber­at­tack, em­ploy­ees trained a cam­era on the de­par­ture board and broad­cast it to YouTube. When govern­ment servers were switched off, of­fi­cials posted up­dates to Face­book. And with the dis­rup­tion con­tin­u­ing, of­fice work­ers have turned to Gmail to keep their busi­nesses go­ing.

As Ukraine’s dig­i­tal in­fra­struc­ture shud­dered un­der the weight of last Tues­day’s cy­ber­at­tack, Sil­i­con Val­ley firms played an out­size role in keep­ing in­for­ma­tion flow­ing, an il­lus­tra­tion both of their vast reach and their un­of­fi­cial role as a kind of emer­gency backup sys­tem. Google’s mail ser­vice has been keep­ing the lights on at some firms af­ter their email servers down, while Face­book is cred­ited as a crit­i­cal plat­form for dig­i­tal first re­spon­ders.

“Our war room, na­tion­wide, mi­grated to Face­book,” said An­drey Chi­garkin, the chief in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity of­fi­cer at a Kievbased gam­ing firm and ac­tive par­tic­i­pant in the early hours of the on­line re­sponse. “All the news — bad, good — was com­ing through Face­book.”

Face­book has a rel­a­tively low take up in Ukraine, count­ing be­tween 8 to 9 mil- lion monthly ac­tive users com­pared to 10 to 15 mil­lion in Poland, a neigh­bor of roughly the same size, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures pro­vided by an­a­lyt­ics firm So­cialBak­ers. But it’s still a pow­er­ful medium there and is cred­ited with be­ing an ac­cel­er­ant for the protest move­ment that top­pled the Rus­si­afriendly leader Vik­tor Yanukovich in 2014. To­day, govern­ment agen­cies reg­u­larly post of­fi­cial state­ments to their Face­book walls and press of­fi­cers es­chew emails to chat with jour­nal­ists over Face­book Mes­sen­ger.

“Face­book in Ukraine is a big thing,” said Dmytro Shymkiv, the deputy head of Ukraine’s pres­i­den­tial ad­min­is­tra­tion and a for­mer di­rec­tor of Mi­crosoft Ukraine.

Shymkiv was among the many of­fi­cials to post up­dates about the out­break as it hap­pened (to Face­book, nat­u­rally.) He said that “the cloud” — a mar­ket­ing term for the pool of some­times free com­put­ing power of­fered by the likes of Google, Face­book, Mi­crosoft, Ama­zon and many oth­ers — pro­vided the safety and re­dun­dancy that many busi­nesses in Ukraine lacked.

“It’s a global backup,” he said.

Pri­vate busi­nesses and even govern­ment of­fices are still re­ly­ing at least in part on Sil­i­con Val­ley firms’ email and chat ser­vices, mainly as a sub­sti­tute for downed mail servers. Vic­tor Zhora, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Kiev-based In­fos­afe, said two of the firms he’s help­ing to re­cover from the out­break have switched to Gmail as they try to get back on their feet. In one pe­di­atric clinic in the Kharkivskyi area of Kiev, Dr. Lidiia Pod­kopaieva says staff turned to Face­bookowned What­sApp to co­or­di­nate their work at the fa­cil­ity af­ter half their com­put­ers

Ukraine says 2nd at­tack foiled.


Ukraine has dodged a sec­ond cy­ber­at­tack, of­fi­cials said Wed­nes­day, sug­gest­ing that the dig­i­tal cam­paign which par­a­lyzed com­put­ers across the coun­try on June 27 and around the world is still on­go­ing.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov said the sec­ond strike timed for July 4 — like the first one — orig­i­nated from servers at the Ukrainian tax soft­ware com­pany M.E. Doc, which sheds a lit­tle more light on Tues­day’s heav­ily armed raid on M.E. Doc’s of­fice and the seizure of its servers. A po­lice spokes­woman said there were no ar­rests. — The As­so­ci­ated Press were wiped out.

In­fra­struc­ture Min­is­ter Volodymyr Omelyan said the out­break had shown that the Sil­i­con Val­ley’s “cloud” was much more re­silient “than a Ukrainian phys­i­cal server stand­ing alone in a post of­fice,” a ref­er­ence to one of Ukraine’s worst-hit agen­cies .

But he ex­pressed reser­va­tions about lean­ing too heav­ily on Amer­i­can com­put­ing power in times of need. “Def­i­nitely we should build a much more sus­tain­able net­work in case of emer­gency,” he said. “We can­not just rely on Face­book as a backup.”

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