Cybersecurity firms ESET and Broadcom’s Symantec reported that they discovered a new data wiper malware used in new attacks against hundreds of machines. As Russian forces formally launched a full-scale military operation against Ukraine.

The wiper was dubbed “HermeticWiper” (aka KillDisk.NCV) by the Slovak company, and one of the malware samples was compiled on December 28, 2021, implying that preparations for the attacks had been ongoing for nearly two months.

ESET stated, “The wiper binary is signed using a code signing certificate issued to Hermetica Digital Ltd. In order to corrupt data, the wiper exploits legitimate drivers from the EaseUS Partition Master software. Finally, the wiper reboots the computer.”

The scale and scope of the data-wiping attacks, as well as the identity of the threat actor behind the infections, are still unknown. However, this is the second time this year that a destructive malware has been installed on Ukrainian computer systems, following the WhisperGate operation in mid-January.

The wiper attacks come on the heels of a third “massive” wave of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on Ukrainian government and banking institutions on Wednesday, which struck out online portals for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cabinet of Ministers and the Rada, the country’s parliament.

According to a report published earlier this week by Accenture, cybercriminals on the dark web are looking to capitalise on ongoing political tensions by advertising databases and network accesses containing information on Ukrainian citizens and critical infrastructure entities on RaidForums and Free Civilian marketplaces in the “hopes of gaining high profits.

Last week, two of Ukraine’s largest banks, PrivatBank and Oschadbank, as well as the websites of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and the Armed Forces, were disrupted by a DDoS attack from unknown actors, prompting the UK and US governments to blame the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU).

The onslaught of disruptive malicious cyber acts since the beginning of the year has also prompted the Ukrainian law enforcement authority to portray the attacks as an attempt to sow fear, undermine trust in the state’s ability to defend its citizens, and destabilise its unity.

Finally the researchers concluded that ,” Ukraine is facing systematic attempts to sow panic, spread false information and distort the true state of affairs, “All of this adds up to nothing more than a massive wave of hybrid warfare.

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