Live Updates: Russia invades Ukraine

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Two Democratic lawmakers are calling on US President Joe Biden to increase cybersecurity assistance to Ukraine and its European allies following a hack that disrupted service from a key Ukrainian internet service provider on last month.

In a letter to Biden shared with CNN on Tuesday, Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Bill Keating, both of Massachusetts, expressed concern that Russia could go after further cyberattacks in Ukraine or a hack computer that would test NATO’s resolve as the Russian military advances in Ukraine. stalls.

A cyberattack last week on Ukrtelecom, which describes itself as Ukraine’s largest internet and landline provider, which reportedly reduced the telecom operator’s connectivity to 13% of pre-war levels .

The lawmakers, both members of their respective chambers’ foreign affairs committees, want a new office of cybersecurity at the State Department to bolster U.S. cooperation with Ukraine and European allies on cybersecurity issues, and to its turn help defend against Russian hacking threats.

A spokesperson for Markey’s office called the $37 million the White House requested from Congress to run the office in fiscal year 2023 a “solid starting point,” but said it was ” imperative” that the State Department coordinate with government entities like the U.S. Cyber ​​Command. and the Department of Homeland Security who have long provided cybersecurity assistance to Ukraine.

CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

Independent of the new office, the State Department has overseen millions of dollars in aid to Kyiv to bolster its networks in recent years. And the head of US Cyber ​​Command, the army’s hacking unit, said on Tuesday that the command dispatched a team of cyber specialists to Ukraine late last year to help defend Ukrainian infrastructure. .

Learn more about the hacks: Although there have been a series of Russian-linked hacking incidents against Ukrainian organizations since the start of the war, there has not been the level of disruptive hacking against critical infrastructure that some analysts feared.

One exception was a cyberattack early in the war that disrupted internet service to tens of thousands of satellite modems in Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe. US officials are investigating the incident as a potential state-sponsored Russian hack, CNN previously reported.

On March 21, Biden warned U.S. business leaders that “the scale of Russia’s cyber capability is quite significant and coming.” the possibility.

Markey and Keating asked Biden to “quickly” appoint a goodwill ambassador to head the State Department’s new cybersecurity office. (Secretary of State Antony Blinken told State Department employees on Monday that Biden would nominate someone for the role “very soon.”)

Democratic lawmakers also want to know what lessons the Biden administration has learned from the Russian hack in Ukraine in recent weeks.

“How is the administration coordinating US government agencies to apply these lessons to strengthen potential vulnerabilities of the United States as well as those of our allies and partners? Markey and Keating wrote to Biden, asking for responses by April 29.

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