US intelligence believes Russian military hackers instigated last month’s massive outage at satellite internet provider Viasat, according to The Washington Post.
The US has concluded Russia’s own military intelligence service, known as the GRU, orchestrated the cyber attack on Viasat, the newspaper said on Thursday, citing unnamed US officials.
The cyber attack on Viasat occurred right as Russia began to invade Ukraine. The ensuing outage caused tens of thousands of satellite modems in Ukraine and Europe to go offline, crippling communications for a vast swath of users and industrial services.
Since then, the US has been warning satellite communication providers to be on guard against potential hacking attempts. Last week, US federal agencies released an advisory, saying they were “aware of possible threats to US and international satellite communication,” without elaborating.
The Ukrainian government also suspects Russian hackers were behind the Viasat disruption. “We don’t need to attribute it since we have obvious evidence that it was organized by Russian hackers to disrupt the connection between customers that use this satellite system,” the Ukrainian cybersecurity official Victor Zhora told The Post.
Publicly, the White House has stopped short of pointing fingers at the Kremlin for the Viasat outage. But officials did previously blame Russia’s GRU for launching a barrage of DDoS attacks against Ukraine in the lead-up to the war. (The GRU has also been linked to several high-profile hacks in the US, including against the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.)
Viasat, which is based in the US, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But the company has previously said it’s been investigating the outage with the help of law enforcement and a third-party cyber security firm.
“We currently believe this was a deliberate, isolated and external cyber event. Viasat’s continuous and ongoing mitigation efforts have stabilized the KA-SAT network,” Viasat said back on March 11.
The company added it’s working to restore access to the company’s satellite internet service in Europe. “We continue to make significant progress and multiple resolution efforts have been completed while others are underway. Certain customer modems are receiving over-the-air updates while other customer modems will be replaced,” the company said.