WASHINGTON — A cyberattack that disrupted Viasat internet services in Ukraine and other parts of Europe did not affect U.S. government customers, the company said March 16.
The California-based satellite giant and defense contractor further said the attack did not compromise customer data and did not damage its core network infrastructure and gateways. As of March 11, its KA-SAT network had been stabilized and the company was working to restore services.
“We continue to make significant progress and multiple resolution efforts have been completed while others are underway,” the company said in a statement. “Certain customer modems are receiving over-the-air updates while other customer modems will be replaced.”
The February cyberattack — described as “deliberate, isolated and external” by a Viasat spokesperson — roughly coincided with Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine. NetBlocks on March 15 said the Viasat attack was “one of several incidents observed” as Russia rolled in.
The Ukrainian government as of March 16 tallied more than 3,000 distributed denial-of-service attacks on its systems, including a record 275 in one day. The tactic, often referred to as DDoS, floods a website or network with traffic, rendering it useless.
“Russia’s aggression, the intensity of cyber-attacks against Ukraine’s vital information infrastructure hasn’t decreased,” the State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection of Ukraine said in a bulletin. “While Russian missiles are targeting physical infrastructure of communication and broadcasting, Russian hackers are targeting our information infrastructure.”
Moscow has historically denied such operations.
Reuters on March 11 reported Western intelligence teams, including the U.S. National Security Agency, are probing the attack, which has not been attributed to any one player. Reuters described the blitz as possibly “one of the most significant wartime cyberattacks publicly disclosed so far.”
Viasat told C4ISRNET on March 16 it is working with “law enforcement, government partners” and its “third-party cybersecurity firm.”
Viasat furnishes satellite and networking capabilities, among other goods, to the U.S. military. In January 2020, for example, the company announced it had won a $90 million Air Force contract to provide specialized Link 16 radios.
Colin Demarest is a reporter at C4ISRNET, where he covers military networks, cyber and IT. Colin previously covered the Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration — namely Cold War cleanup and nuclear weapons development — for a daily newspaper in South Carolina. Colin is also an award-winning photographer.