Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear operator, reported an unprecedented cyber attack on its website on Tuesday, but said operations had not been disrupted. ‘On August 16, 2022, the most powerful cyber attack since the beginning of the Russian invasion occurred against Energoatom’s website,’ the operator said on Telegram. It was ‘attacked from Russian territory’.
The Russian ‘popular cyber army’ group used more than seven million internet bots to attack the website for three hours. However, the assault ‘had no significant impact on the work of the Energoatom website’. Around midday, a Russian Telegram channel called ‘popular cyber army’ called on its followers to attack the Ukrainian nuclear operator’s website.
By Tuesday evening, however, it had announced a change in strategy, redirecting supporters to a new target — the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, whose website was slow. The attack comes as tensions rise over the Zaporizhzhia power plant in the country’s south, which was occupied by Russian forces in March, shortly after invading its pro-EU neighbour.
Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of shelling the largest nuclear installation in Europe, raising concerns about a nuclear disaster. Prior to Russia’s invasion on February 24, Ukraine relied on four nuclear power plants to supply roughly half of its electricity.
In 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident occurred in Ukraine, when reactor number four at the Chernobyl power station exploded. The power station’s three other reactors were shut down in turn, with the most recent shutting down in 2000. On the first day of the invasion, Russian troops seized the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, occupying it and a highly radioactive exclusion zone surrounding the complex for weeks.