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November 1, 2022updated 09 Nov 2022 5:47pm

UK government announces £6m cybersecurity support for Ukraine

The Ukraine Cyber Programme has been running since the first days of the invasion, but has remained secret to protect the integrity of the security.

By Claudia Glover

The UK government is boosting Ukraine’s cyber defences, with a £6.35m package aimed at helping it withstand an onslaught of cyberattacks from hackers assumed to be sympathetic to Russia.  

CRRT Ukraine
A string of cyberattacks followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Sergei MalgavkoTASS/Getty Images)

The programme will see leading cybersecurity vendors offer advice on how to protect Ukraine’s national infrastructure against cyberattacks.

UK cybersecurity support for Ukraine

The UK’s Ukraine cyber programme was initially mobilised following Russia’s invasion in February, but details of the £6.35m in funding were only revealed today. It is designed to help implement advanced cybersecurity measures, along with partnerships with vendors to optimise the country’s existing protection against attacks. 

Alongside this, the UK government is providing incident response for the attacks that do occur and has delivered front-line cybersecurity hardware and software. This includes firewalls to prevent attacks from taking hold, protection against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, which have been commonly deployed during the war, and “forensic capabilities” to help Ukrainians on the ground unpick complex attacks.

The programme was initially kept secret to “protect its operational security,” the Foreign Office said. The scheme works by “using the expertise of world-leading cybersecurity providers”.

Ukraine has seen cyberattacks increase during Russia war

Following Russia’s invasion, cyberattacks on Ukraine have increased significantly. Many of these have been DDoS attacks on elements of Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure. One attack was particularly serious, hitting the Viasat satellite network and limiting internet access for many Ukrainians. Other attacks have damaged Ukrainian military, government and banking websites, as well as disrupting humanitarian aid efforts.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly said the UK’s support is strengthening Ukraine’s cyber defences and improving collective long-term cyber resilience. 

“The UK’s support to Ukraine is not limited to military aid – we are drawing on Britain’s world-leading expertise to support Ukraine’s cyber defences,” Cleverly said. “They have mounted an impressive defence against Russian aggression in cyberspace, just as they have done on the battlefield.”

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Cleverly added that Russia has “persistently attempted to invade Ukraine’s cyberspace, threatening critical information, services and infrastructure”.

Head of the National Cyber Security Centre, Lindy Cameron, added: “The threat remains real and the UK’s support package is undoubtedly bolstering Ukraine’s defences further. They have mounted an impressive defence against Russian aggression in cyberspace, just as they have done on the battlefield.”

Read more: Will Russia’s cyber threats against Ukraine prove empty?

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