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Ukraine reportedly came under a cyber attack on Tuesday as the country braces for a potential armed conflict with Russia.
"Ukraine's cybersecurity centre said on Tuesday that websites of the Ukrainian defence ministry and banks Privatbank and Oshadbank were under a cyber attack,"
Reuters reported, citing Russian media. "The Ukrainian cybersecurity centre said Russia could be to blame for the attack."
The cyber attack comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin has amassed approximately 130,000 soldiers near the Ukrainian border, which is now nearly completely surrounded.
Retired four-star U.S. Army General Keith Alexander, who is former director of the US National Security Agency and founding commander of United States Cyber Command, wrote in the Financial Times on Tuesday:
As Russia showed during the 2008 Georgia conflict, hacking government systems as well as financial and energy sectors can cause chaos. Though some in the West may believe this isn't their problem, that attitude reflects a disregard for history. It was less than five years ago that Russia conducted NotPetya, a cyber attack targeting Ukrainian power, transportation, and financial systems in an attempt to further destabilise the country. But rather than being the cyber equivalent of a precision smart bomb, NotPetya spread rapidly across the globe.
The attack caused companies around the world - including in the US, UK, France, Germany, and India - to suffer massive operational disruptions. With ripple effects hitting nearly every corner of the global economy, total worldwide costs were estimated by the White House to exceed $10bn.
There were reports on Tuesday signaling that Putin was pulling some troops back from the Ukrainian border, although NATO officials said that they had not seen any credible signs of that yet.
"There are signs from Moscow that diplomacy should continue,"
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters. "There are grounds for cautious optimism. So far, we have not seen any sign of de-escalation on the ground."
"Russia has amassed a fighting force in and around Ukraine, unprecedented since the Cold War,"
Stoltenberg said. "Everything is now in place for a new attack. But Russia still has time to step back from the brink. Stop preparing for war. And start working for a peaceful solution. NATO Allies have been very clear that any further Russian aggression against Ukraine would come at a high price. We have systematically exposed Russia's actions, plans and disinformation to lay bare to the world what Russia is doing and to make it harder for Russia to conduct aggressive actions."
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