17 June 2024

ICC investigates cyberattacks in Ukraine as possible war crimes


ICC investigates cyberattacks in Ukraine as possible war crimes

Prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) are investigating alleged Russian cyberattacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure as potential war crimes, Reuters reported, citing sources familiar with the case. This marks the first confirmation that cyberattacks are being scrutinized by international prosecutors, potentially leading to arrest warrants if sufficient evidence is gathered.

The probe is focused on cyberattacks that endangered lives by disrupting essential services such as power and water supplies, cutting connections to emergency responders, and disabling mobile data services that transmit air raid warnings. An official, speaking anonymously due to the ongoing investigation, stated that ICC prosecutors are working closely with Ukrainian teams to investigate cyberattacks committed since the full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Two additional sources confirmed that the ICC is examining cyberattacks in Ukraine, potentially dating back to 2015, the year following Russia's annexation of Crimea. Moscow has consistently denied involvement in cyberattacks, dismissing such accusations as attempts to incite anti-Russian sentiment.

Ukraine is actively gathering evidence to support the ICC's investigation. The ICC prosecutor's office has declined to comment on the matter but has previously asserted its jurisdiction over cybercrimes.

Since the invasion began, the ICC has issued four arrest warrants against senior Russian figures, including President Vladimir Putin, who is suspected of a war crime related to the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Russia, not a member of the ICC, has dismissed these warrants as “null and void.” Ukraine, although not a member, has granted the ICC jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed on its territory.

The investigation includes at least four major attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure. A senior source revealed that a group of Russian hackers known as “Sandworm” is under scrutiny. Sandworm, believed to be linked to Russian military intelligence, has been identified by Ukrainian officials and cyber experts as responsible for numerous high-profile cyberattacks, including a 2015 attack on Ukraine's power grid, and a destructive December 2023 hack of Ukraine's largest telecommunications service provider, Kyivstar.

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