"Be afraid and expect the worst," cyberattackers warned in a massive hacking attack on Ukrainian government websites Friday. The warning message was left on the foreign ministry's website in Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish, the New York Times reports. "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." Ukrainian authorities denied that any personal information had been leaked, though the websites taken offline included one that stored Ukrainian citizens' electronic passports and vaccination certificates, reports the AP.
Foreign ministry spokesman Oleg Nikolenko said Friday that websites of numerous government ministries were temporarily down and teams were working to restore them. He told the AP that while it is too early to prove who was behind the attack, "there is a long record of Russian cyber assaults against Ukraine in the past." Josep Borrell, the European Union's top diplomat, condemned the attack and said EU cyber units would offer assistance to Ukraine's government, reports Reuters. "I can't blame anybody as I have no proof, but we can imagine," he said.
"We are going to mobilize all our resources to help Ukraine cope with these cyberattacks," Borrell said. "Sadly, we expected this could happen." Tensions were already extremely high before the cyberattack. Russia still has around 100,000 troops deployed near the Ukraine border and talks between Russia, the US, and NATO this week failed to defuse the crisis. NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg warned Wednesday that there is a "real risk for a new armed conflict in Europe," per the Guardian. Moscow has called for NATO to roll back its deployments in eastern Europe and permanently block Ukraine from joining the alliance. (Read more Ukraine stories.)