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Ukraine prepares to remove data from Russia’s reach (1 Viewer)

Rogue Valley

Lead or get out of the way
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2/22/22
Ukraine’s government is preparing to wipe its computer servers and transfer its sensitive data out of Kyiv if Russian troops move to seize the capital, a senior Ukrainian cyber official said Tuesday. The worst-case contingency planning addresses an unintended consequence of a security measure the government took in 2014, when it began centralizing its computer systems after Russia and pro-Moscow separatists seized control of Crimea and the Donbas region. That measure made it harder for Russian hackers to penetrate computers that store critical data and provide services such as pension benefits, or to use formerly government-run networks in the occupied territories to launch cyberattacks on Kyiv. But it’s also created a tempting target in the capital for Russia’s military, which has begun moving into separatist-controlled territories of eastern Ukraine. Seizing Ukraine’s computer networks intact would give Moscow not only troves of classified documents but also detailed information about the population under its control. So Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s administration says it isn’t taking any chances. “We have plans and we have scenarios,” Victor Zhora, the deputy chief of Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection, said in an interview from Kyiv. “We can move to new locations, we can save data and we can delete data and prevent capturing all this data,” even if Russian forces take control of the government’s offices.

Ukraine’s cybersecurity contingency planning highlights how the changing nature of warfare in the 21st century has created new risks for governments under siege — but also new opportunities to ensure their survival.“I don’t want to consider this absolutely terrible scenario of attacking Kyiv. Hopefully this will not happen,” Zhora said. “But in any case, I believe that responsible services and agencies … will implement prepared scenarios to move sensitive data, together with equipment, and to install new IT systems [in] new locations.” Multiple security experts backed up the concerns about Ukraine’s data, pointing to reports that Russia has a list of Ukrainians whom it plans to kill or arrest after invading. Removing vital systems from threatened regions could deprive Russia of key information if its troops begin marching toward Kyiv. “The ability to access a database of local citizens which live or lived on occupied territories is a valuable resource,” Zhora said, because it helps attackers “understand the population.” Zhora said he suspected that Russian forces were able to mine databases left behind in the captured regions despite Ukraine’s efforts to encrypt data and destroy hard drives. Over the years, amid continued fighting in the breakaway regions, Ukraine has continued this centralization project. And cybersecurity experts say it’s a smart strategy for protecting the country’s information.


Having lived in Ukraine, I am probably somewhere in the data.
 
Call Hillary. She knows the best ways of purging computers.
 

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