On Monday a major DDOS attack has targeted Lithuania's national network infrastructure, more than a week after EU sanctions took effect for Kaliningrad, and neighboring Lithuania took the dramatic step of banning land transport of goods, including transport of steel and ferrous metals to the Russian exclave.
The group now claiming responsibility for the cyberattack, called "Killnet", has expressly stated it's in retaliation for the Kaliningrad 'blockade'. "Lithuanian state and private institutions were hit by a denial-of-service cyber attack on Monday, the Baltic country's National Cyber Security Centre said in a statement released by the defense ministry," Reuters reports.
The National Cyber Security Center further warned the country to expect more: "It is very likely that attacks of similar or greater intensity will continue in the coming days, especially in the transportation, energy and financial sectors." It added, "Secure networks used by state institutions were among those affected."
It is as yet unclear whether the "Killnet" group is directly affiliated with the Russian state or intelligence agencies. The group has stated that "cyber attacks will continue against Lithuania until it cancels its block on the transit of goods to Kaliningrad."
Moscow and its allies have lately escalated their threats and rhetoric concerning the crisis. Belarussian president and close Putin ally Alexander Lukashenko has gone so far as to say that NATO member Lithuania's actions are "akin to a declaration of war".
It appears that two days ago Killnet published an early warning, telling Lithuania to unblock Russian goods, while issuing an ultimatum.
Meanwhile, Kremlin officials have continued to condemn the "unprecedented" EU move against Kaliningrad, saying it's in contravention of historic treaties and norms. Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, recently traveled to Kaliningrad and where he slammed Lithuania and the EU's actions as “unprecedented political, informational and economic pressure from the West”:
At the suggestion of Western countries, in violation of the norms and principles of international law, of the transit through its territory to the Kaliningrad region of a large group of goods. This example shows that one cannot trust not only the oral statements of the West, but also written ones. Russia will certainly react to such hostile actions. Appropriate measures are being worked out in an interdepartmental format and will be taken in the near future. Their consequences will have a serious negative impact on the population of Lithuania.
Likely this will only bolster US and NATO cyber security assistance and defense measures to Vilnius. Even prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were reports the US has beefing up the cyber defenses of regional allies.