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Russia-linked Hackers Launch DDoS Attacks on Germany and U.S. Hospitals, Threaten Canada

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Russian hackers kicked a number of German websites offline with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in response to Berlin’s decision to deploy tanks to Ukraine to support its war efforts.

Killnet Takes Credit for Attacks

In yet another stark example of cyber warfare entering an arena with traditional war, the hacking group Killnet took credit for DDoS attacks on German government websites, banks and airports, reports said. Germany's BSI cyber agency said the attacks were largely ineffective. Killnet touts itself as a "hacktivist" group that has actively targeted opponents of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Hackers such as Killnet and an allied group called XakNet are said to be more concerned with protecting social and political causes than financial gain.

Cybersecurity experts have long worried about the Kremlin carrying out cyber strikes on countries that have backed Ukraine with weaponry and using state-sponsored cyber crews to do its bidding. Killnet’s ties to Moscow are not clear. XakNet, a pro-Russian hacking crew active for about a year, has previously denied any Russian government-affiliation.

German cybersecurity officials said in a statement that the Killnet attacks did not warrant any special actions beyond standard mitigations.

"Currently, some websites are not accessible. There are currently no indications of direct effects on the respective service and, according to the BSI's assessment, these are not to be expected if the usual protective measures are taken," the BSI said in a statement.

Canada on the Hit List?

Killnet has threatened other countries that have supported Kyiv with ground weapons. Last week, Canadian cyber officials called for a "heightened state of vigilance" against the threat of retaliatory cyberattacks from Russia-aligned hackers on January 26 after Ottawa had sent battle tanks to Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) said the agency "is aware of reporting regarding an increase in Russian state-aligned hacktivist groups seeking to compromise or disrupt Ukrainian-aligned allies, in response to their continued support of the government of Ukraine."

The Canadian Center for Cyber Security cautioned the Canadian cybersecurity community, including critical infrastructure and defense industry network defenders to heighten their awareness of and protection against malicious cyber threats, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

U.S. Hospitals Targeted

Killnet is also suspected in a number of attacks against U.S. hospital websites Monday. According to the Daily Mail, the hospitals include:

  • Stanford Healthcare (California)
  • Duke University Hospital (North Carolina
  • Cedars-Sinai Hospital (California)
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (Pennsylvania)
  • Jefferson Health (Pennsylvania)
  • Abrazo Health (Arizona)
  • Atlanticare (New Jersey)
  • Michigan Medicine and its associated Mott Children's Hospital (Michigan)
  • Huntsville Hospital (Alabama)
  • Anaheim Regional Medical Center (California)
  • Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (California)
  • Buena Vista Regional Medical Center (Iowa)
  • Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center (Colorado)
D. Howard Kass

D. Howard Kass is a contributing editor to MSSP Alert. He brings a career in journalism and market research to the role. He has served as CRN News Editor, Dataquest Channel Analyst, and West Coast Senior Contributing Editor at Channelnomics. As the CEO of The Viewpoint Group, he led groundbreaking market research.