US, Ukraine Sign New Agreement Expanding Cybersecurity Cooperation

US, Ukraine Sign New Agreement Expanding Cybersecurity Cooperation
A person delivers a computer payload while working on a laptop during the 11th International Cybersecurity Forum in Lille, France, on Jan. 22, 2019. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)
Katabella Roberts

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Ukraine’s cybersecurity agency signed an agreement this week aimed at bolstering collaboration between the two nations on shared cybersecurity priorities, CISA announced.

CISA’s signing of the memorandum of cooperation (MOC) with the State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP) aims to strengthen cooperation between the two countries in a number of areas, including information exchanges and the sharing of best practices on cyber incidents.

It will also expand upon the two agencies’ existing relationship with regard to sharing key data on critical infrastructure and allow for shared cybersecurity training and joint exercises.

CISA Director Jen Easterly praised the agreement deepening the agency’s cybersecurity collaboration with Ukraine in a July 27 statement. She also applauded Ukraine’s efforts to defend the country amid its ongoing invasion by Russian forces.

“I applaud Ukraine’s heroic efforts to defend its nation against unprecedented Russian cyber aggression and have been incredibly moved by the resiliency and bravery of the Ukrainian people throughout this unprovoked war,” Easterly said.

“Cyber threats cross borders and oceans, and so we look forward to building on our existing relationship with SSSCIP to share information and collectively build global resilience against cyber threats.”

Slew of Cyberattacks

Russia has reportedly attacked both Ukrainian and U.S. cyber networks and infrastructure in the past, with the country allegedly being behind the SolarWinds technology hack in 2020, which left several agencies, including the departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, Energy, Treasury, and Commerce compromised.

Russian officials have denied that they were behind that attack, with the Russian Foreign Ministry stating that the country “does not conduct offensive operations in the cyber domain.”

In early January, prior to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s so-called special military operation in Ukraine, the latter nation accused Russia of being behind a cyberattack that defaced its government websites, alleging that Moscow was engaged in a “hybrid war” against its neighbor.
Last month, a cyberattack temporarily knocked out public and private websites in Lithuania, with a pro-Moscow hacker group reportedly claiming responsibility. That attack came amid a feud over sanctions that saw Lithuania restrict the transit of steel and ferrous metals.
In March, a top FBI official said state-sponsored hacking by Russia is a “current” threat to U.S. national security, stating that hackers had been scanning the systems of energy companies and other critical infrastructure in the United States in an attempt to discover vulnerabilities that could be exploited.

Oleksandr Potii, deputy chairman of SSSCIP, said in the joint statement on July 27 that the agreement represents an “enduring partnership and alignment in defending our shared values through increased real-time information sharing across agencies and critical sectors and committed collaboration in cultivating a resilient partnership.”