Russian hackers are targeting computer systems of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies to access war crime evidence obtained by the war-torn nation, Kyiv’s cyber defense chief has revealed.
In an interview with Reuters, State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP) head Yurii Shchyhol said a sudden change in the direction of Russian cyber espionage activities has been detected in the first half of 2023.
From energy facilities, the hackers are now targeting law enforcement institutions to gather information about Ukrainian investigations into war crimes and counter-intelligence efforts.
Without specifying names, he revealed that such agencies had previously not been targeted this often.
In a report published earlier this week, the SSSCIP disclosed that Russian military commanders are directing cyber units to seek “evidence, intelligence, and arguments” that could be used for criminal proceedings against Russian spies.
“The groups we’ve identified as being engaged in this activity are part of Russia’s GRU (main intelligence directorate) and FSB (Federal Security Service) intelligence agencies,” Shchyhol added.
Russia has been flagged for carrying out war crimes – including violations against the civilian population and large-scale destruction of essential infrastructure – during its invasion of Ukraine.
Some Russians have already been arrested in Ukraine, and the International Criminal Court continues its investigations into the alleged crimes against humanity committed by Moscow’s forces.
President Vladimir Putin and his military are apparently aware of this, so their most recent cyber espionage is tailored to help those arrested in Kyiv avoid potential prosecution.
In carrying out the attacks, the SSSCIP revealed that Russian state hackers appear to be using “less sophisticated tactics” as part of a “spray and pray” approach.
Despite the approach, the agency admitted that the hackers “still managed to achieve some success” in their bid to wipe data.