Ukraine’s cybersecurity agency is in turmoil after its two heads were fired following corruption accusations. The management of this strategic structure, which had for example investigated the hacking of the satellite internet operator Viasat, was entrusted to Mykhailo Fedorov, the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation, after the departure of Yurii Shchyhol, the former director of the State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine, and Viktor Zhora, his deputy.
Ukrainian justice suspects them of having embezzled around 1.5 million euros during the purchase of foreign software in 2021 and 2022, before the start of the Russian invasion, which would have given rise to overbilling. Or 7.2 million euros instead of 5.6 million euros, “the real value” of the software purchased, the balance being transferred to accounts abroad.
According to Ukrainian magistrates, this contract was classified to avoid an open call for tenders. They also specified that the company suspected of having paid this bribe is EPAM Systems, an American company specializing in software engineering which achieved a turnover of 4.8 billion dollars in 2022. L The company did not react to this announcement.
On his Facebook account, Viktor Zhora denounced a “smokescreen”. “A large number of different specialists, additional contractors and experts are needed for” setting up IT projects, “this is how information systems are developed all over the world,” a- he explained about this contract for the creation of a secure data registry system.
Placed in pre-trial detention, Yurii Shchyhol was released after paying bail of around 630,000 euros. According to the Ukrainian press, investigators found a crypto wallet with the equivalent of $1.5 million on his phone. His former deputy Viktor Zhora was also placed in pre-trial detention for a time before being released after paying bail of around 250,000 euros.
Last week, he tweeted about his departure from Ukraine’s cybersecurity agency. “Thank you all for your support of our service and our fight against the enemy in cyberspace,” he said. noted. I hope that my successor will continue to support all initiatives and international cooperation.”
Infrastructures under the umbrella of American cloud giants
This international cooperation mainly involves IT and cyber through massive aid from American players, including Microsoft and AWS.
At AWS’s re:Invent 2023 event this week in Las Vegas, Mariusz Kachmarek, COO of Privatbank, one of Ukraine’s leading banks, explained that his company’s hardware infrastructure is now largely supported and protected by AWS as part of this assistance. “We are under a solid umbrella now,” he said.
“There have been massive investments in infrastructure, they are distributed in the cloud and we are able to cope with many significant attacks, much more than before.” Enough to minimize the importance of its relations with the Ukrainian cybersecurity agency, and its influence on its operations.
“I cannot say that the problem of corruption does not exist, but what I can say is that it is largely taken care of by the local authorities, there is awareness,” he also assured. on the issue of corruption in the country.