Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ukraine. Show all posts

19 September 2017

CAPTAIN JACK BLOG: ANALYSIS OF UKRAINE’S KILLER DRONE – THE SOKOL


On Sep 14 2017 a successful drone drone test has taken place in Ukraine. The Sokol (or Sokil – eng Falcon) unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). But rather than holding a separate high-explosive warhead, the drone itself is the main munition.

This was stated by Oleksandr Turchinov, Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, after completing the tests at the landfill in Goncharivka, Chernihiv region.

According to him, one of the tasks set by the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine towards the domestic defense and industrial complex was “the establishment of production of high-quality unmanned combat vehicles”.

“The Sokol reconnaissance and attack drone, which we have tested today, it is capable of finding and accurately striking targets, using, depending on the tasks, the high-explosive, fragmentation-explosive and thermobaric munitions,” – O. Turchinov noted, adding that today’s tests were carried out in extremely difficult weather conditions: “The wind gusts were 14-17 meters per second.” “Despite these problems, in fact all the tasks that have been set are fulfilled, the goals are meet” he said.

After analysis of the the Ukraine Armed Forces video, the system consists of RC plane equipped with a camera and directed remotely from a control station. Apparently, the flight controller software would be Ardupilot. Since one of the video captures shows a typical version of its Mission Planner software. ArduPilot one of the most advanced, full-featured and reliable autopilot software available, used by a wide variety of both professionals and amateurs, and has been developed by a team of diverse professional engineers and computer scientists. ArduPilot source code is stored and managed on GitHub, and as of early 2017 has been forked by more than 5,000 GitHub users. The souce tree includes approximately 700,000 lines of primarily C++ code, originating from 25,000 patches with 300+ contributors, and has been forked over 5,000 times.

Russia’s Digital Weapons Refined on Virtual Battlefield’ of Ukraine

A laptop shows part of a code, which is the component of Petya malware computer virus, according to representatives of Ukrainian cybersecurity firm ISSP, at the firm's office in Kyiv, Ukraine, July 4, 2017.

It was a Friday in June, a short workday before a public holiday weekend in Ukraine, and cybersecurity expert Victor Zhora had left the capital, Kyiv, and was in the western city of Lviv when he got the first in a torrent of phone calls from frantic clients.

His clients’ networks were being crippled by ransomware known as Petya, a malicious software that locks up infected computers and data. But this ransomware was a variant of an older one and wasn’t designed to extort money — the goal of the virus’ designers was massive disruption to Ukraine’s economy.

“I decided not to switch on my computer and just used my phone and iPad as a precaution,” he said. “I didn’t want my laptop to be contaminated by the virus and to lose my data,” he said.

18 September 2017

UKRAINE’S VOLUNTEER MILITIAS MAY HAVE SAVED THE COUNTRY, BUT NOW THEY THREATEN IT

KIMBERLY MARTEN AND OLGA OLIKER

Earlier this year, armed protesters used violence and threats to force Ukraine’s government into a substantial policy reversal: a ban on anthracite coal imports from separatist-controlled territory, crucial to the country’s electricity supply. The protesters were representatives of “volunteer battalions” (or pro-state militias), broadly credited with helping Ukraine survive the early days of its continuing conflict with Russian-backed separatists in the East. This incident, and others like it, illustrate how the continued cohesiveness, weapons access, and politicization of these groups threatens Ukraine’s democracy and stability.

When the volunteer battalions (although not all are technically battalions, we will use this terminology as shorthand) first appeared in 2014, their assistance was welcome and necessary, albeit controversial. Although seen as patriots by many, critics deemed these groups undisciplined, politically extremist, and insufficiently controlled by Ukrainian authorities. Some were credibly linked to human rights violations and neo-Nazi sympathies.

1 September 2017

Why Lethal Aid Can't Help Ukraine

Julie Thompson

Arming Ukraine could put the United States in an awkward position vis-à-vis its NATO allies.

On Thursday, weeks after rumors swirled around Washington that the State Department and Pentagon want the president to arm Ukraine, Secretary of Defense James Mattis confirmed that the White House is considering sending weapons to the country.

President Trump should reject any such proposal. The United States already has devoted $750 million to Ukraine with little to show for it. Providing lethal aid will escalate tensions with Russia and contradict NATO allies who prefer to solve the conflict diplomatically.

U.S. aid has come through the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), which was launched in 2014 in response to the Russian incursion into Ukraine. In fiscal year 2015, ERI included a $175 million transfer fund that was shared among Ukraine and the three Baltic States. Similarly, the fiscal year 2017 ERI request included $5.6 million “to develop a sustainable Ukraine (UKR) Special Operations Force Generation model.”

ERI spending is unlikely to stop there—the latest ERI proposal requests $150 million for Ukraine “to continue train, equip and advise efforts to build Ukraine’s capacity to conduct internal defense operations.”

31 August 2017

The Real Danger of Sending U.S. Arms to Ukraine

Brian Milakovsky

Putin could regard U.S. arms transfers as a symbolic test of who dictates conditions in the Donbass warzone.

In 2015, after spending several months in the frontline zone I wrote that Ukraine desperately needs a “lousy peace” and not an arms race. Two years and several thousand deaths later, the idea of supplying Ukraine with U.S. arms has resurfaced.

As a humanitarian worker whose greatest desire is to see the intolerable misery of Ukrainian civilians come to an end, I grapple with these questions: Would American arms increase the price of Russian aggression, causing Moscow to scale back its military project in the Donbass and saving civilian lives? Or would they incite a new round of escalation and a flood of new arms into the region?

The stakes of this question are incredibly high for Donbass civilians. With both sides placing their heavy artillery adjacent to residential areas (according to the head of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) monitoring mission in the region), every escalation means more death and destruction for a population already traumatized by three years of war and civil strife.

20 August 2017

The Profexer: FBI Has Interviewed a Malware Expert in the Ukraine Who Wrote the Code Used by Russian Intelligence to Penetrate the DNC Computers


KIEV, Ukraine — The hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the Dark Web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.

Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee.

But while Profexer’s online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I.

“I don’t know what will happen,” he wrote in one of his last messages posted on a restricted-access website before going to the police. “It won’t be pleasant. But I’m still alive.”

It is the first known instance of a living witness emerging from the arid mass of technical detail that has so far shaped the investigation into the D.N.C. hack and the heated debate it has stirred. The Ukrainian police declined to divulge the man’s name or other details, other than that he is living in Ukraine and has not been arrested.

19 August 2017

In Ukraine, a Malware Expert Who Could Blow the Whistle on Russian Hacking


By ANDREW E. KRAMER and ANDREW HIGGINS

KIEV, Ukraine — The hacker, known only by his online alias “Profexer,” kept a low profile. He wrote computer code alone in an apartment and quietly sold his handiwork on the anonymous portion of the internet known as the dark web. Last winter, he suddenly went dark entirely.

Profexer’s posts, already accessible only to a small band of fellow hackers and cybercriminals looking for software tips, blinked out in January — just days after American intelligence agencies publicly identified a program he had written as one tool used in Russian hacking in the United States. American intelligence agencies have determined Russian hackers were behind the electronic break-in of the Democratic National Committee.

But while Profexer’s online persona vanished, a flesh-and-blood person has emerged: a fearful man who the Ukrainian police said turned himself in early this year, and has now become a witness for the F.B.I.

“I don’t know what will happen,” he wrote in one of his last messages posted on a restricted-access website before going to the police. “It won’t be pleasant. But I’m still alive.”

18 August 2017

North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say

By William J. Broad, David E. Sanger

North Korea’s success in testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears able to reach the United States was made possible by black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines probably from a Ukrainian factory with historical ties to Russia’s missile program, according to an expert analysis being published Monday and classified assessments by American intelligence agencies.

The studies may solve the mystery of how North Korea began succeeding so suddenly after a string of fiery missile failures, some of which may have been caused by American sabotage of its supply chains and cyberattacks on its launches. After those failures, the North changed designs and suppliers in the past two years, according to a new study by Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Such a degree of aid to North Korea from afar would be notable because President Trump has singled out only China as the North’s main source of economic and technological support. He has never blamed Ukraine or Russia, though his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, made an oblique reference to both China and Russia as the nation’s “principal economic enablers” after the North’s most recent ICBM launch last month.

Analysts who studied photographs of the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, inspecting the new rocket motors concluded that they derive from designs that once powered the Soviet Union’s missile fleet. The engines were so powerful that a single missile could hurl 10 thermonuclear warheads between continents.

27 July 2017

Why Ukrainian forces gave up Crimea without a fight - and NATO is alert

Pavel Polityuk and Anton Zverev

KIEV/SEVASTOPOL, Crimea (Reuters) - The career of Sergei Yeliseyev helps to explain why Ukraine's armed forces gave up Crimea almost without a fight - and why NATO now says it is alert to Russian attempts to undermine military loyalty in its eastern European members.

His rise to become number two in the Ukrainian navy long before Russia seized Crimea illustrates the divided loyalties that some personnel in countries that once belonged to the Soviet Union might still face.

Yeliseyev's roots were in Russia but he ended up serving Ukraine, a different ex-Soviet republic, only to defect when put to the test. NATO military planners now believe Moscow regards people with similarly ambiguous personal links as potentially valuable, should a new confrontation break out with the West.

In 2014, Yeliseyev was first deputy commander of the Ukrainian fleet, then largely based in Crimea, when Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms took control of Kiev's ships and military bases on the peninsula.

26 July 2017

Airborne Fighting Vehicles Rolled Through Hell in Eastern Ukraine


In April 2014, a few months after Russian troops seized Crimea, a pro-Russian uprising broke out in Eastern Ukraine centered on Donetsk Oblast. The province had a substantial ethnic Russian population which supported the pro-Moscow government of Pres. Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country that February after the Euromaidan protests.

Though a significant minority in Eastern Ukraine had expressed support for reunification with Russia in the past, prior to 2014 there had not been any major episodes of violence.

That all changed when pro-Russian separatists began seizing police and military posts to loot them for weapons, then organizing into armed “People’s Republics” centered around the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk. In mid-April, the Ukrainian army launched its first counter-offensive, with the “aluminum tanks” of the 25th Airborne Brigade leading the way.

Clashes in the so-called “Anti-Terrorist Operation” at first involved minimal loss of life, but soon escalated into a full-scale conventional war with tanks, artillery, attack jets, drones and anti-aircraft missiles, culminating in a poorly-disguised intervention by Russian tanks on behalf of the separatists in August.

23 July 2017

Ukraine Needs to Address Its Paramilitary Problem

Michael Sheldon

Volunteer battalions represent a legitimacy dilemma for the Ukrainian government.

Since the conclusion of Maidan, politically motivated private security actors operating in parallel with the Ukrainian government have played an integral part in the country’s security landscape. While some have been cooperating with Ukrainian authorities, others experience great friction with the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) and Ministry of Interior Affairs (MIA), undermining the formal security structures of the Ukrainian government. It seems that political and military power have become inseparable at the unit level, with many battalion commanders also being career politicians or parliamentary members.

The term “volunteer battalion” is common vernacular in the context of post-Maidan Ukraine. While the term may seem straightforward to anyone with a basic familiarity of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, it encompasses a wide range of units active and inactive in the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO) zone today. Effectively, these units can be viewed along an axis of patronage, with those relying on the government as the primary patron representing the formal units, and those that rely on civil society representing the independent units.

Frictions with the government and lasting connections to political entities—a result of a haphazard, and in some instances nonexistent, reorganization effort—raise questions about the allegiances of these units. If unchecked, some of these units will erode the legitimacy of the Ukrainian security institutions.

15 July 2017

Can Kurt Volker Solve the Ukraine Crisis?

Curt Mills
As Donald Trump spoke with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Hamburg late last week, his State Department announced the appointment of a tough-minded former NATO ambassador to serve as Washington’s new point man on Ukraine. His mandate is to help implement the Minsk agreements. Kurt Volker is widely respected as an accomplished diplomat, but in Ukraine he confronts his greatest challenge yet.

Volker was last seen in government in the early days of the Obama administration, a holdover at NATO installed by President George W. Bush. Volker had taken office a month before Russia invaded Georgia in August 2008. Whether such timing shaped Volker’s views on the Kremlin, or merely cemented them, is unclear. But it is largely undisputed, in both Washington and Moscow, that in choosing Volker, Rex Tillerson has opted to appoint a Russia hawk who also believes in diplomacy. This mixture may allow him to tackle successfully a dividing point between East and West that has thwarted previous efforts to resolve it. According to Paul Saunders, the executive director of the Center for the National Interest and a former George W. Bush administration official, “Kurt Volker is an experienced and tough-minded diplomat who knows how to combine principles and pragmatism into policy. He is widely respected across the political spectrum.”

14 July 2017

Yandex: Tool of Russian Disinformation and Cyber Operations in Ukraine


By: Sergey Sukhankin

The recent decision by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to ban popular Russian social networks VKontakte (VK) and Odnoklassniki, on May 15 (see EDM, June 7), provoked serious debate both inside Ukraine and abroad. Now that the initial anxiety over that ban has somewhat subsided, it is worth analyzing other, less commented-on but no less important, elements of the decree.

Aside from social networks, Poroshenko’s May 15 decree bans Russian Internet search engine giant Yandex, some information technology (IT) programs, as well as anti-virus software (including Kaspersky and Doctor Web) that have allegedly been undermining Ukrainian information and cyber security. According to Colonel Oleksandr Tkachuk, from the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), approximately 300 of the largest Ukrainian companies and corporations use Russian IT programs “directly controlled by the Russian Federal Security Service [FSB]” (Espreso.tv, April 27). Moreover, the Ukrainian side has suffered huge financial losses as a direct result of using Russian products. In his interview, the head of the information security division of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Valentin Petrov, noted that Ukraine annually spends approximately one billion hryvnas (roughly $39 million) on Russian IT and software products (Ukrinform.ua, May 17).

13 July 2017

NATO: We’re supplying new cybersecurity equipment to Ukraine



KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — NATO’s secretary-general says the 29-member alliance is supplying hardware to the Ukrainian government to help protect its government networks from cyberattacks.

At a news conference in Kiev alongside Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday, Jens Stoltenberg told journalists that “we are in the process of providing Ukraine with new equipment to some key government institutions.”

Few other details were provided, but Stoltenberg said the gear would “help Ukraine investigate who is behind the different attacks.”

Ukraine has recently been hit by a series of powerful cyberattacks, including a June 27 attack that crippled computers across the country. Kiev blames Russia for the intrusions, charges the Kremlin denies.

Stoltenberg added that the alliance is studying the Ukraine attacks closely. “NATO is learning a lot from Ukraine,” he said.

8 July 2017

Police seize servers of Ukrainian software firm after cyber attack


Ukrainian police on Tuesday seized the servers of an accounting software firm suspected of spreading a malware virus which crippled computer systems at major companies around the world last week, a senior police official said.

The head of Ukraine’s Cyber Police, Serhiy Demedyuk, told Reuters the servers of M.E.Doc - Ukraine’s most popular accounting software - had been seized as part of an investigation into the attack.

Though they are still trying to establish who was behind last week’s attack, Ukrainian intelligence officials and security firms have said some of the initial infections were spread via a malicious update issued by M.E.Doc, charges the company’s owners deny.

The owners were not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.

Premium Service, which says it is an official dealer of M.E.Doc’s software, wrote a post on M.E.Doc’s Facebook page saying masked men were searching M.E.Doc’s offices and that the software firm’s servers and services were down.

Premium Service could not be reached for further comment.

Cyber Police spokeswoman Yulia Kvitko said investigative actions were continuing at M.E.Doc’s offices, adding that further comment would be made on Wednesday.

Ukraine says it foiled 2nd cyberattack after police raid

by Raphael Satter

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian authorities have avoided a second cyberattack, the country’s interior minister said Wednesday, an announcement that suggests the effort to wreak electronic havoc across the country is ongoing.

Ukraine is still trying to find its feet after scores or even hundreds of businesses and government agencies were hit by an explosion of data-scrambling software on June 27. In a Facebook post, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov said there was a second stage to that attack, timed to hit its peak at 4 p.m. in Ukraine on July 4.

Avakov said the second strike — 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.

The firm acknowledged Wednesday that it had been broken into and used by hackers to seed an epidemic of malware — an admission that came after a week of increasingly implausible denials.

It’s not clear what the thrust or scope of the second cyberattack in Ukraine was, but M.E. Doc is widely used across Ukraine, making it a tempting springboard for hackers. An executive at the company behind the software was quoted by Interfax-Ukraine as saying it was installed on 1 million machines across the country.

30 June 2017

Russia's Perpetual Geopolitics


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For half a millennium, Russian foreign policy has been characterized by soaring ambitions that have exceeded the country’s capabilities. Beginning with the reign of Ivan the Terrible in the sixteenth century, Russia managed to expand at an average rate of 50 square miles per day for hundreds of years, eventually covering one-sixth of the earth’s landmass. By 1900, it was the world’s fourth- or fifth-largest industrial power and the largest agricultural producer in Europe. But its per capita GDP reached only 20 percent of the United Kingdom’s and 40 percent of Germany’s. Imperial Russia’s average life span at birth was just 30 years—higher than British India’s (23) but the same as Qing China’s and far below the United Kingdom’s (52), Japan’s (51), and Germany’s (49). Russian literacy in the early twentieth century remained below 33 percent—lower than that of Great Britain in the eighteenth century. These comparisons were all well known by the Russian political establishment, because its members traveled to Europe frequently and measured their country against the world’s leaders (something that is true today, as well).

Ukraine is Ground Zero in a New Global Malware Attack

BY MAX DE HALDEVAN

The quick infection of nearly 300,000 computers worldwide is reportedly due to two software exploits released in April by the hacking group called the Shadow Brokers. 

A sweeping set of cyber attacks hit critical services in Ukraine this morning, and have so far shown no signs of slowing down. The attacks appear to be related to a new strain of the ransomware known as Petya, which Costin Raiu, director of global research and analysis at Kaspersky Lab, says is already spreading worldwide.

In the space of hours, Ukraine’s government, top energy companies, private and state banks, main airport, and Kyiv’s metro system all reported hits on their systems. The attacker was not immediately clear—Wired, in a recent story, described Russia as using its neighbor as a “test lab for cyber war,” but Moscow denies any part in past attacks. Its own state oil giant Rosneft also reported being hit by a cyberattack today; Rosneft’s website was unresponsive at time of writing. It’s unclear if the attacks are linked. Another Russian oil firm, Bashneft, has been hit too.

29 June 2017

Ukraine Police Say This is the Source of Tuesday’s Massive Cyber Attack

BY PATRICK TUCKE , JUNE 27, 2017 

The lesson from Tuesday’s massive cyber attack, beware of updates from Ukrainian accounting apps that are orders of magnitude larger than normal.
A vulnerability within an obscure piece of Ukrainian accounting software is the root cause of the massive cyber attack that swept the globe Tuesday, according to the Ukrainian law enforcement. The attack hit Ukrainian utilities and airline services, U.S. based pharmaceutical company Merck, Russian oil giant Rosneft and even forced operators at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to switch to manual radiation monitoring of the site.

The software is called Me.DOC, it’s basically an application for tax reporting and filing for companies that do business in Ukraine. At about 10:30 a.m. GMT Tuesday. MeDoc ran an automatic update on the software, a routine event. That connected every version of Me.Doc on every computer on which it had been installed (so long as it was online) to this address: 92.60.184.55.
That by itself is not unusual.
As the Ukrainian police’s cyber division explained in a Facebook post on Tuesday, updates from Me.doc are usually rather small, about 300 bytes. The update on Tuesday morning ran 333 kilobytes, orders of magnitude larger.
Once host computers download the update — becoming infected — the malware creates a new file called Rundll32.exe. Next it contacts a different network. It then starts running new commands, taking advantage of a particular Windows vulnerability, the same Microsoft vulnerability targeted by Wannacry.
Defense One verified the Ukrainian police’s post with a second researcher who had direct knowledge of the attack and the malware in question.

Other cyber security researchers with Russia-based Kaspersky Labs also began pointing to Me.DOC on Tuesday as the likely point of spread.
At this point, no one has claimed responsibility for the attack and authorities have yet to make a hard determination about attribution. Actors backed by the Russian government have been targeting portions of Ukrainian infrastructure since 2015 when a massive attack by a group knocked out power to more than 225,000 people in Ukraine. Hackers pulled a similar stunt in December, a story first reported by Defense One

28 June 2017

Ukraine Hit by Massive Cyber Attack


BY EMILY TAMKIN

Ukraine was hit — and hit hard — by hackers on Tuesday, with government institutions, the main airport, the state power distributor, and banks all being affected.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko posted a photo of his computer to Twitter, saying that every government computer was similarly dark.
The Ukrainian central bank blamed a virus, and said in a statement, “As a result of these cyber attacks these banks are having difficulties with client services and carrying out banking operations.”

Ukraine’s official Twitter account tweeted out a meme in response.

To which Ukraine’s parliament replied:

The attacks did not hit just Ukraine — Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk said it, too, was attacked, as was Russian oil giant Rosneft, though its core business was not impacted.