Ukrainian officials' phones targeted by hackers -cyber watchdog

Victor Zhora, the deputy head of Ukraine's State Special Communications Service, said that phones being used by the country's public servants had come under sustained targeting.

 A Russian flag is seen on the laptop screen in front of a computer screen on which cyber code is displayed, in this illustration picture taken March 2, 2018. (photo credit: REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL/ILLUSTRATION/FILE PHOTO)
A Russian flag is seen on the laptop screen in front of a computer screen on which cyber code is displayed, in this illustration picture taken March 2, 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL/ILLUSTRATION/FILE PHOTO)

The phones of Ukrainian officials have been targeted by hackers as Russia pursues its invasion of Ukraine, a senior cybersecurity official said Monday.

Victor Zhora, the deputy head of Ukraine's State Special Communications Service, said that phones being used by the country's public servants had come under sustained targeting.

"We see a lot of attempts to hack Ukrainian officials' phones, mainly with the spreading of malware," Zhora told journalists at an online news conference meant to mark the 100 days since Russian forces poured across the border.

Zhora said his service had, so far, not seen any evidence that Ukrainian devices had been compromised.

The hacking of government leaders' devices crept up the international agenda following a cascade of revelations last year around the how phones used by presidents, ministers, and other government officials had been targeted or compromised.

 Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words ''Cyber Attack'', binary codes and the Ukrainian flag, in this illustration taken February 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION) Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of the words ''Cyber Attack'', binary codes and the Ukrainian flag, in this illustration taken February 15, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/DADO RUVIC/ILLUSTRATION)

Zero click

The ability to remotely and invisibly hack into such devices using sophisticated spy software - sometimes called a "zero click" hack because it requires no interaction from the victim - is particularly feared. In April, Reuters reported that top European Commission officials had had their phones targeted using zero click spyware.

Zhora said he and his colleagues were aware of the threat of zero-click intrusions but declined to comment on whether they knew of any such attempts against their own devices.

"We continue monitoring this," he said.