FoxBlade: Russia Started Cyber ​​War Against Ukraine Before Invasion

Hours before the launch of missiles or the movement of battle tanks used in the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, a series of offensive and destructive cyberattacks against the digital infrastructure of the country. It is well known that modern battles are fought first in cyberspace, but now Microsoft has named one of the weapons used: FoxBlade.

Dead, wounded and refugees are the bitter side of the invasion of Ukraine. Putin has made a aggression against a sovereign country, violating international norms and those fundamental rights that allow us to call ourselves human. Yes, there are dozens of active wars around the world that we should not forget, but this one is of an unprecedented proportion in a Europe where the two great world wars began. Russia’s operation against Ukraine is the first invasion of Europe since World War II and the similarities with the occupation of the sudetenland by Hitler sounds terrible in the XXI century.

Russia has a veritable arsenal of weapons, including no less than 3,000 nuclear warheads that Putin has placed on “alert as a deterrent force” in another irresponsible move not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis. The situation is very, very scary.

But Ukraine is resisting and the international response is being unusually consensual, especially in terms of economic sanctions. Even from usually neutral countries like Switzerland (where Russian billionaires surely have a good amount of dollars) and from forceful sanctions such as paralyzing the assets of the Central Bank of Russia, excluding (partially) Russian banks from the Swift interbank payment system prevent the Russians from using their assets in European markets.

On what Putin and the oligarchs who support him are willing to lose Much will depend on the development of this war. And also the internal response of Russian citizens, who in 24 hours are 30% poorer due to the devaluation of the ruble and pay 20% of the credits due to the rise in rates. Russia is losing the economic front by a landslide. If it is not for sanity or humanity, let us hope that it is the self-interest of Putin and his cronies that force him to stop the military operation and reach an agreement. Russia plays Risk, but Europe is in control of Monopoly. We will see.

Before the invasion: FoxBlade

Russia has a cyber army just as powerful as the physical arsenal. It includes both military personnel from the Russian GRU intelligence group, as well as civilian mercenaries financed by the Russian government who are among the world’s elite in the development and distribution of malware known as ‘Sandworm’.

Microsoft President Brad Smith has spoken in an article on the Microsoft blog about cyber attacks on computer networks and Internet disinformation campaigns being carried out by Russia. Less known and less visible, but essential in any modern war considering our dependence on computers and servers.

Hours before the invasion, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) detected a new round of cyberattacks against Ukraine’s digital infrastructure. The new malware package, which they dubbed FoxBlade, is described as a Trojan horse that can take over computers for use in distributed denial-of-service attacks, known as DDoS, without the owners’ knowledge.


The malware was precisely deployed against Ukrainian civilian digital targets, including the financial sector, the agricultural sector, emergency response services, humanitarian relief efforts, and organizations and companies in the energy sector. It is not the first launched by pro-Russian groups against Ukraine. Let’s remember ransomware NotPetya of 2017 and this same year cybersecurity firms detected the HermeticWiper and the WhisperGate, destructive “data wipe” malware that was used in cyberattacks against organizations in Ukraine, Lithuania, and Latvia. It was the beginning of the invasion.

“These Attacks On Civilian Targets Raise Serious Concerns Under The Geneva Convention”says the president of Microsoft, positioning the company on the international side against Russia (as the rest of the technology companies are doing in general) when speaking of the «tragic, illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine«.

In addition to promising advice and technological help to Ukraine so that it can defend itself against these cyber attacks, Smith speaks of the need for governments, companies and civil society to fight against «a well-orchestrated ongoing operation of disinformationwhich seeks to undermine the truth and sow seeds of discord and mistrust«. The removal of all information from Russian-sponsored RT and Sputnik agencies on Microsoft’s platforms and ad network is a concrete move that others are following.

The president of Microsoft ends his article with a message of hope: “As we look to the future, it is clear that digital technology will play a vital role in both war and peace. Like so many others, we call for the restoration of peace, respect for the sovereignty of Ukraine and the protection of the people of Ukraine ». We’ll have to keep talking about all of this. Unfortunately it is the topic of the moment and we do not escape its many aspects.

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