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Ukrainian Security Service Blocks Over 10,000 Web Sites

Security forces seize servers of major domain registrars

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This article originally appeared at Vesti Business.  It was translated for RI by Alexei Shestyan


The Ukrainian SBU [Security Service of Ukraine or Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrayiny] raided and seized the servers of major domain registrars such as NIC.ua and Online Service. After the raid, many servers stopped working, and that in turn froze tens of thousands of web sites covering a broad spectrum from government to retail. The reason for the raids was a judicial decision made by the Pechersky regional court of Kiev—the companies had allowed separatist sites to register their domains.

The adviser to the head of the Ukrainian SBU, Markiyan Lubkivsky, said that they had asked the companies to close their sites, but they allegedly refused: “They answered that they would do this only by a court order. We managed to get a decision of the court and seized the equipment. He promised to return the servers in two months.

NIC.ua was puzzled by these developments: “One site, from the list of sites the SBU had drawn up, was closed earlier in the year. The other companies were my own. The other three sites that the SBU had a claim on are working even after the seizure of the servers. This is because we only register the domains (addresses) of web sites, and the actual hosting (where they work from) is done in Russia, and we do not have any relationship to those sites,” said the director of NIC.ua, Andrew Khvetkevich. He admitted that they could disable the sites but said they need an official inquiry: “The SBU had sent an email with a scanned copy of the document. We replied requesting the original document. After that there was a search.”

Andrew Khvetkevich believes the SBU has demonstrated how fast one needs to react to requests. Meanwhile, the sites of the separatists are still working, while tens of thousands of other sites are blocked. “We will incur a loss of three hundred thousand dollars. Customers will be affected a whole lot more. Among the blocked sites, there are the official websites of the regional councils, Hotel Hesperia . . . some of the nonstate sites that are blocked include the Ukrainian Red Cross, the Lexus car dealership, some pro-Ukrainian sites,” said Khvetkevich, who added that his company is preparing a lawsuit.

According to the CEO of the Internet Association of Ukraine, Tetyana Popova, the situation with NIC.ua is not the first of this type: “With the right dealings, we can address issues of information security without sacrificing tens of thousands of customers. After cases like these, folks migrate en masse to hosting abroad. The hosting companies themselves move their servers there and take the customers with them. This isn’t even an speculation, but a fact. This will end up as a loss for the nation, a loss of jobs and millions lost in taxes and currency.”

 


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