Ukrainian sites continue to see DDoS attacks: Google

Google said that its security teams are continuing to see increased Distributed Denial of Service or DDoS attempts against numerous Ukraine sites.

“We continue to see DDoS attempts against numerous Ukraine sites, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as services like Liveuamap designed to help people find information. We have expanded eligibility for Project Shield, our free protection against DDoS attacks, so that Ukrainian government websites, embassies worldwide and other governments in close proximity to the conflict can stay online, protect themselves and continue to offer their crucial services,” Google said in a blog post.

Project Shield

Project Shield allows Google to absorb the bad traffic in a DDos attack and act as a “shield” for smaller websites, allowing them to continue operating and defend against these attacks. As of today, over 150 websites in Ukraine, including many news organisations, are using the service and we have communicated its availability to Ukraine government representatives. We encourage all eligible organisations to register for Project Shield so our systems can help block these attacks and keep websites online, Google noted.

The invasion of Ukraine is quickly creating a devastating humanitarian crisis. Over 1.2 million Ukrainians have already fled their homes, according to data from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN has warned that number may rise to 5 million people in the coming weeks and months.

Also, air raid alerts and sirens in Ukraine are a tragic daily reality, and we’re doing all we can to help people get these crucial alerts as many ways as possible. We are highlighting the Повітряна тривога (Ukrainian Alarm) app to Google Play users in Ukraine, Google said. This app was created by Ukrainian developers in cooperation with the Ukrainian government to give people better air raid warnings.

Updating Search and Maps in Ukraine

Google has launched an SOS alert on Search across Ukraine. When people search for refugee and evacuation information, they will see an alert pointing them to United Nations resources for refugees and asylum seekers. We’re working with expert organizations to source helpful humanitarian information as the situation unfolds.

And after consulting with multiple sources on the ground, including local authorities, we’ve temporarily disabled some live Google Maps features in Ukraine, including the traffic layer and information about how busy places are, to help protect the safety of local communities and their citizens. We’ve also added information on refugee and migrant centers in neighboring countries.

Expanding security protections

Our security teams are on call 24/7. Russia-backed hacking and influence operations are not new to us; we’ve been taking action against them for years. Over the past 12 months alone, we’ve issued hundreds of government-backed attack warnings to people in Ukraine using products like Gmail. We’ve been particularly vigilant during the invasion and our products will continue to automatically detect and block suspicious activity, stated Google.

While we have not seen meaningful changes in the levels of malicious activity in this region overall, our Threat Analysis Group (TAG) has seen threat actors refocus their efforts on Ukrainian targets. For example, we’ve seen the attackers behind the GhostWriter threat group targeting Ukrainian government and military officials. We blocked these attempts and have not seen any compromise of Google accounts as a result of this campaign.

“We also automatically increased Google account security protections (including more frequent authentication challenges) for people in the region and will continue to do so as cyber threats evolve. Our Advanced Protection Program — which delivers Google’s highest level of security — is currently protecting the accounts of hundreds of high-risk users in Ukraine,” pointed out Google.

And “Project Shield,” a service providing free unlimited protection against Distributed Denial of Service attacks, is already protecting over 150 Ukrainian websites, including local news services. This development also comes in the wake of the Ukrainian government reaching out to volunteers from the country’s hacker underground to help protect critical infrastructure and conduct cyber spying missions against Russian troops.

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