The UK has diversified its support for Ukraine with £25m ($32m) over a two year period to shore up the country’s cyber defences.

The package will include £16m ($20.5m) in UK funding and potential for a further £9m ($11.5) contribution from international allies.

The funds will help to protect critical national infrastructure and vital services through strengthened cyber defence capabilities to prevent indiscriminate Russian cyber attacks.

It is the latest round of UK support to Ukraine as the country mounts its counter-offensive against Russian forces, using all domains to sow instability and attempt to destroy Ukraine’s sovereignty.

Ukraine’s counter-offesnive against Russia is making slow progress along the eastern and southern fronts as it combats a Russian defensive network that includes extensive minefields and pre-planned security zones used to direct and channel offensive manoeuvres.

So far, western allies have stepped up to provide Ukraine with essential military assistance – largely in the form of artillery, air defences, fighting vehicles, missiles and muntions. However, cyber attacks have also been an ongoing since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014.

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Ukraine has successfully fought back a number of cyber-attacks by Russian forces, including destructive wiper-ware attacks and covert espionage-ware attacks.

What will this money fund?

The UK-funded Ukraine Cyber Programme (UCP) uses world-leading expertise, from both the private and public sector, to protect Ukraine’s critical national infrastructure and vital public services.

The support, which builds on the UK Foreign Secretary’s announcement of £6.35m for the programme last year, will also fund and provide forensic capabilities to enable Ukrainian cyber experts to analyse system compromises, attribute attackers and build better evidence to prosecute these indiscriminate attacks.

Cyber warfare in Russia-Ukraine war

Discussing the impact of cyber warfare in the war in Ukraine, the Cyber Advisor Lead at Resilience, Simon West, at Cybereason stated:

“The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has had a significant impact on the cyber threat landscape.

“We have seen an increase in Russian state sponsored attacks on critical infrastructure as well as an increase in espionage activities from both Russian and Ukrainian militaries and government.”

West explained that cyber operations go beyond the realm of cyberspace, cyber attacks can blend the line between the digital and the physical.

“Cyber operations, such as cyber espionage, denial of service, or disruption of critical infrastructure can have a much more systemic impact than just the data and technology alone and has the potential cause cyber physical damage that goes beyond the traditional environment and may cause a loss of human life as well,” West added.

Pushing the private sector to invest in Ukraine

This week, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will make the case for the private sector to join the counter-offensive against Russia by supporting Ukraine through investment. Sunak will say that it is vital the international community hardens Ukraine’s defences – digital as well as physical – to enable the country to protect and grow