Microsoft is warning that the new “digital war” involves devastating malware attacks on emergency response agencies and humanitarian relief efforts, citing an increase in cyberattacks against Ukrainian civilian digital targets.
The strikes on civilian targets, according to the Redmond, Washington-based software company, pose major concerns under the Geneva Convention.
“Recent assaults against Ukrainian civilian digital targets, such as the financial sector, agriculture sector, emergency response services, humanitarian relief operations, and energy sector organisations and firms, continue to worry us,” stated Microsoft President Brad Smith.
In a statement released Monday, Smith said, “These strikes on civilian targets raise severe concerns under the Geneva Convention, and we have provided information with the Ukrainian government about each of them.”
“We’ve also informed the Ukrainian government about recent cyber-attacks aimed at stealing a wide range of data, including health, insurance, and transportation-related PII, as well as other official data sets,” he added.
The Russian invasion was described as “tragic, unlawful, and unjustified” by the Microsoft vice chairman, who added that Redmond’s cybersecurity researchers discovered a new round of offensive and destructive cyberattacks directed against Ukraine’s digital infrastructure just hours before the February 24 invasion.
The new malware, dubbed FoxBlade, was designed to assault a variety of targets, including Ukrainian military institutions and manufacturers, as well as a number of other Ukrainian government bodies.
“These recent and ongoing cyberattacks have been narrowly targeted, and we have not seen the deployment of indiscriminate malware technology like that used in the 2017 NotPetya attack, which spread across Ukraine’s economy and beyond its borders,” Smith stated.
Microsoft is also working to remove RT and Sputnik content from its MSN.com and Microsoft Start platforms.
Redmond is also eliminating RT news apps from the Windows app store and de-ranking its Bing search results so that only RT and Sputnik links are returned when a user explicitly wants to go to those pages.
Microsoft is also removing all adverts from RT and Sputnik from its ad network, according to Smith.
Late Monday, Twitter announced that tweets containing links to Russian state-affiliated media would be flagged.