The Ukrainian government is preparing for the possible need to move its data and servers abroad once Russian invading forces enter the country, a senior cybersecurity official told Reuters on Wednesday.
Victor Zhora, deputy chief of Ukraine’s State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection, stressed that his department was planning for an emergency, but considered that Ukrainians wanted to be prepared for any Russian threat to seize sensitive government documents.
“We are preparing the ground,” Jora said. Plan A was to protect IT infrastructure in Ukraine. Moving it to another country would only be a “Plan B or C”.
Zora said the move could only happen after a regulatory change approved by Ukrainian lawmakers.
Government officials have already sent equipment and backups to more secure areas of Ukraine beyond the reach of Russian forces, who attacked on February 24 and are besieging several cities.
Jhora told Politico last month that it plans to remove critical data from the capital, Kyiv, if it is threatened, but that preparations to move the potential data abroad go a step further.
Ukraine has received offers to host data from various countries, but Zhora has refused to identify them. Because of the proximity, “a European location would be preferred,” he said.
“There are many options,” he said. “All suggestions are highly welcome and worthy of consideration.”
Zhora provided some details on how such measures could be implemented, but said that Russia’s past efforts to keep official data out of Russia have involved the physical transport of servers and removable storage devices or the digital transfer of data from one service or server to another. .
Even if legislators agree to lift the ban on sending Ukrainian data abroad and establish a protocol to remove IT resources, this does not mean that all or even most of the government’s data or network equipment will be sent out of the country immediately. , Said Jora.
Government agencies will have to decide on a case-by-case basis whether their activities will continue within the country or remove them.
The Taliban’s lightning strike in Afghanistan last August, which followed the withdrawal of US and other foreign forces and the subsequent occupation of city after city, has become a matter of international concern.
The Taliban’s victory in Kabul meant that their forces were in a position to inherit sensitive information – such as information about the salaries of Afghan government employees and soldiers – that they could potentially mine to lead in how to arrest or eliminate domestic opponents.
Ukraine has similar concerns. Russia, which owns the Ukrainian government’s database and intelligence files, could be helpful if it wants to control Ukraine.
Pavel Jakubek, a historian at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, says Ukraine is necessarily planning a possible government in exile, usually a last resort.
“It could be that they want to thwart possible Russian attempts to block their operations, analog and digital,” he said.
Jacobeck said that in 1940, Norway sent most of its foreign ministry archives to the north of the country, and then eventually to Britain, invading German forces.
Outside of trying to protect civilians under occupation, Ukrainian officials would like to deny Russian forces the opportunity to keep documents “which could otherwise be used by the enemy as doctors and used for propaganda purposes,” Jakubek said.
Thomson Reuters 2022