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‘Cyber-attack’ cripples Ukraine’s electronic election system ahead of presidential vote

Published time: May 24, 2014 23:02
Edited time: May 26, 2014 01:16
Election commission workers prepare the poling station for the upcoming presidential election in Kiev, May 24, 2014. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili)

Election commission workers prepare the poling station for the upcoming presidential election in Kiev, May 24, 2014. (Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili)

The systems of Ukraine’s Central Election Commission were hit by a ‘virus’ designed to delete the results of the presidential vote, the Security Service says. CyberBerkut claim responsibility for the attack, saying the SBU is punishing innocents.

“We, the CyberBerkut declare that we're continuously present inside the CEC internal network communication. We affirm that the whole system does not work and the exchange of information between the center and the regions is carried out exclusively by employees on the phone and via e-mail,” the group said on their website on Sunday.

The hacktivists claim “any attempt by the junta to prove otherwise is doomed to failure. They have nothing to show reporters except an imitation of working computers,” as the hacktivists continue to work to “incapacitate the information systems of the fascist regime,” posting a report of their cyber activities.

A day before theelection, Ukraine’s Security Service claimed that it had removed a virus at the Central Election Commission’s server, designed to delete the results of the presidential vote.

“The virus has been eliminated, software is replaced. So, we now have the confidence that the Central Election Commission’s server is safe,” Valentin Nalivaychenko, SBU head, is cited by UNN news agency.He adds that the virus was meant to destroy the results of presidential election on May 25.

After the cyber attack became public, the coup-installed Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced that CEC programmers may not be able to fix the system in time for the elections.

“On May 22 unknown intruders destroyed the 'Elections' information-analytical system of the Central Elections Commission, including those of the regional election commissions,” Avakov posted on his website.

A members of the election comission mops the floor of a pooling station ahead of the upcoming Ukrainian presidential election at the Octyabr village in the Donetsk region on May 22, 2014. (AFP Photo/Genya Savilov)

“Criminal negligence of some of the CEC officials led to a very late reporting of this issue to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Security Service,” Avakov wrote. As a result, “programmers so far failed to fix the CEC equipment,” the minister said announcing that fixing the problem in time for the vote count was “impossible.”

Avakov assured this is not a “catastrophe” and said that counting may be done manually, claiming this way Ukraine will have “more reliable results.”

However, right before polling began on Sunday, Avakov claimed that his website was hacked and the information about ‘manual counting’ was posted by perpetrators.

CyberBerkut which called the Ukrainian presidential election conducted by “Kiev's junta” illegitimate says that all statements coming from the Kiev side are “lies.”

“Lies about the SBU and State Special Communication Service about the 'virus in the system' have already been refuted by Kaspersky Lab,” the hacktivists claim. “CEC lies that 'the system is operating normally' was refuted Avakov! The j unta's attempt to repudiate the Minister of Interior statement does not hold water, as was done after 12 hours of its occurrence.”

CyberBerkut also announced that those who have been “arrested by the SBU” in connection with the CEC attack “have nothing do do with us and our actions.” “The SBU jailed innocent people!”

The attack was first reported on Friday, when the Central Election Commission’s website became inoperable for several hours.

The UNN agency’s “informed source” claimed the perpetrators tried to steal data for the Commission’s sever and thereby disrupt Sunday’s election.

However, the source failed to clarify how the information theft could affect the vote, saying that the lost data has to be analyzed first.