KYIV, Ukraine — Hackers brought down several Ukrainian government websites on Friday, posting a message on the site of the Foreign Ministry saying, “Be afraid and expect the worst.”
The cyberattack, which came a day after the apparent breakdown of diplomatic talks between Russia and the West intended to forestall a threatened Russian military attack on Ukraine, appeared in Ukrainian, Russian and Polish on the website of the Foreign Ministry.
“As a result of a massive cyberattack, the websites of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other government agencies are temporarily down,” the ministry said in a statement.
Diplomats and analysts have been anticipating a cyberattack on Ukraine amid the tensions with Russia, but proving such actions is notoriously difficult. Ukraine did not directly blame Russia for the attack, but pointedly noted that there was a long record of Russian cyber assaults against Ukraine in the past.
The move to post the message on the Foreign Ministry site in three languages seemed to be an effort to obfuscate the hackers’ origin and motives, and shift blame and suspicion elsewhere.
“Ukrainians! All your personal data was uploaded to the internet,” the message read. “All data on the computer is being destroyed. All information about you became public. Be afraid and expect the worst.” It raised a number of historical grievances between Poland and Ukraine.
The talks between Russia and the United States and NATO in Europe this week were intended to find a diplomatic resolution after Russia massed tens of thousands of troops near the border with Ukraine and demanded sweeping security concessions, including a promise not to accept Ukraine into the alliance.
On Thursday, Russian officials said the talks had not yielded results, and one senior diplomat said they were “approaching a dead end.”