Access Now, together with Digital Security Lab Ukraine, has called on the international community to take swift action in support of civil society in Ukraine, as well as the broader public whose human rights are being undermined by cyberattacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure.
Following the most recent cyberattacks targeting Ukraine’s essential public service infrastructure, and the ongoing threat of escalating Russian aggression, this is a critical moment for solidarity with Ukrainian civil society, they say.
The statement calls for:
- Tech companies, nonprofits, and funders to provide direct support to journalists, civil society, and human rights defenders in strengthening their resilience against cyber threats;
- UN bodies and other international organizations to establish and uphold clear, people-first cybersecurity standards; and
- Policymakers, platforms, and other relevant stakeholders to guard against attempts to escalate and exploit current tensions.
“For the last few months we observed significant escalation in digital attacks — malware, phishing, and account takeover attempts against independent media and civic society organizations in Ukraine,” said Vita Volodovska, Head of Digital Security Lab Ukraine. “Addressing these threats requires tech companies working closely with civil society to investigate the attacks and provide rapid-response emergency assistance to those at risk.”
Cyberwarfare is an assault on human rights, and has devastating effects on people’s privacy, freedom of expression, safety and security, and access to information. Cyberattacks can wipe essential systems such as electrical grids, hospitals, and governmental services offline, exacerbating tensions, worsening crises, and endangering lives.
Cyber operations targeting journalists, civil society organizations, and human rights defenders are particularly alarming and should be prohibited in all circumstances. Individuals who work in defense of civil liberties, rights, and democracy are themselves a form of critical infrastructure, often providing direct services and advocating for the needs of the most vulnerable.
“Cyberattacks are disrupting the ability of Ukrainians to seek medical care and obtain other essential services, and receive important information amidst the intensifying military conflict. The international community must act now to protect Ukraine’s critical infrastructure and human rights defenders from these attacks,” said Anastasiya Zhyrmont, Regional Outreach Coordinator for Eastern Europe & Central Asia at Access Now.