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Russia targets football games, officials' phones with cyberattacks

The Kremlin's cyber barrages continue to rain on Ukraine as Russia's war rages on in the eastern and southern parts of the country.

Hackers loyal to the Russian government complement the activities of Moscow's ground troops in continuing the Kremlin's efforts to wage war on Ukrainian territory. Recently, malicious actors penetrated Ukrainian cyber defenses to broadcast Russian propaganda on Ukraine's TV channels.

According to The State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP), Russia targeted a soccer game broadcast. On 5 June, Ukraine's national team played against Wales for a place in the 2022 World Cup hosted by Qatar.

SSSCIP claims that malicious actors succeeded in gaining access to a Content delivery network (CDN) nod and rerouted the traffic. Ukrainian authorities temporarily stopped the broadcast to restart the traffic.

Focus on officials' devices

SSCIPS's deputy head, Victor Zhora, told journalists during an online news conference that Russia's hackers are keen on breaching phones used by Ukrainian public servants.

"We see a lot of attempts to hack Ukrainian officials' phones, mainly with the spreading of malware," Reuters reported Zhora saying.

However, SSCIPS's deputy head assured journalists that there's no evidence pointing to any successful phone hacking attempts by the Russians.

Officials worldwide fear 'zero click' attacks where threat actors remotely hack into smartphones using sophisticated spy software, such as Pegasus. These hacks are particularly dangerous since they require no interaction from the victim, making the attack virtually invisible.

For example, the infamous Pegasus spyware acts through iPhone and Android mobile devices and lets it access messages, emails, photos, or even secretly record calls and activate microphones.

According to Reuters, Zhora said SSSCIP was aware of such intrusions yet did not comment whether he knew of any such attempts against devices held by Ukrainian officials.

Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. According to the United Nations, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created the 'fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.' Over 12.8 million people were displaced due to the conflict, with over 6.9 million fleeing the country.

Witness testimonies from Ukrainian towns Russian forces have occupied for close to a month point to severe human rights violations and targeted lethal attacks against civilians. Reports of "gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights" got Russia suspended from the UN Human Rights Council.

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