Microsoft warns Europe of DDoS attacks From Russia 
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Microsoft warns Europe of DDoS attacks from Russia this winter, as a number of attacks hit Russian organizations. 

The St. Petersburg-based VTB financial institution was hit with an unprecedented cyber attack and is saying that the DDoS attacks were the largest they’ve ever seen.

According to the bank, the investigations carried out revealed a planned and large-scale DDoS attack to cause inconvenience to the bank’s customers by hindering the operation of banking services

The bank noted that some of the traffic flooding its servers originated from Russian IP addresses. VTB stated that this was of particular concern because it wasn’t excluded that some of these addresses could be among the attackers as a result of cyber fraud. All identified Russian IP addresses would be handed over to law enforcement for verification since organizing or participating in a DDoS attack is a criminal offense.

Earlier a new CryWiper Data wiper malware posing as ransomware targeted Russian government agencies, this includes the mayor’s offices and courts. Similar wiper malware has been widely used by criminals backed by Russia against  Ukrainian infrastructure and organizations since January.

Microsoft is guessing that Russia’s hybrid-war efforts will now expand to cover Europe, and predicts that Poland could be the first country to see the effects.

According to Microsoft, GRU-backed Sandworm aka “Iridium” deployed the Prestige ransomware against logistics and transportation networks in Poland and Ukraine. This is being considered the first war-related cyber attack outside of Ukraine since the operation against Viasat took customers’ satellites offline in December 2015.

Clint Watts, GM of Microsoft’s Digital Threat Analysis Center in a blog post mentioned, “The Prestige event in October may represent a measured shift in Russia’s cyber attack strategy, reflecting a willingness by Moscow to use its cyber weapons against organizations outside Ukraine in support of its ongoing war.”

He further added the Kremlin might use such a type of state-sponsored attacks to disrupt foreign supply chains.

Expert Robert Watts also cautioned that European nations and the US should prepare for more Russian government-backed influence operations. Russia uses these types of tactics to prey on people’s concerns about rising energy prices, inflation, and pro-Russian narratives.

Germany might be high on the list of targets since its vital in maintaining Europe’s unity and is home to a large Russian diaspora, seeking to influence popular and elite consensus in a way that benefits the Russian government.

France on the other hand is less vulnerable compared to Germany or Italy, though there is a risk of the bad actor running campaigns using social media to intrude on French affairs based on previous attempts

Watts concluded by saying, “Ukraine has bravely defended both online and offline against Russia’s merciless assault. With the help of its partner nations, companies, and democratic citizens, we can all ensure that Ukraine’s infrastructure remains safe and democracy resilient this winter.”

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