Ukraine was just hit by a sweeping cyberattack that paralyzed operations in major government agencies, including the country’s national bank, state power company, and largest airport.
Government officials have been locked out of their computers, ATMs across the country aren’t working and travelers in the Kiev airport have no idea how to access the departure schedule because, as Kiev Airport’s acting director Pavel Ryabikin explained on Facebook: “The official site of the airport and the scoreboard with the schedule of flights aren't working!”
Amid the chaos of what appears to be the worst cyberattack in its history, the Ukrainian government is trying to assuage public fears by way of a GIF — and a brilliant one at that:
Some of our gov agencies, private firms were hit by a virus. No need to panic, we’re putting utmost efforts to tackle the issue pic.twitter.com/RsDnwZD5Oj— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) June 27, 2017
Ah, the “This is fine” dog — a classic. The meme, which was originally derived from a web-comic illustrator K.C. Green, represents an attitude that is “halfway between a shrug and complete denial of reality,” wrote the New York Times. It features a wide-eyed dog sitting calmly in a room ablaze with fire. As the dog takes a sip from a coffee mug, the words, “This is fine” flash across the screen.
We already knew that the Ukrainian government had an unabashed love for GIFs (remember the Simpsons GIF they used in an actual Twitter fight with Russia?), but it’s still striking that their first official statement to something as serious as widespread hacks has come in the form of a dog with a cowboy hat.
The “This Is fine” dog is maybe the only way the government can react
It’s unorthodox, but the “This Is fine” dog GIF may prove to be a creative way of trying to tamp down public fears during a chaotic and scary situation.
The disruptions that happened this morning are just the latest in a series of attempts to hack into Ukraine’s government infrastructure since 2016. However, government officials are already describing it as the most serious cyberattack in the country’s history.
Some members of the Ukrainian government have reported that they weren’t able to log into their computers, while others have been asked to pay a fee in Bitcoin to regain access to encrypted files, according to the Washington Post.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko tweeted a picture of his computer screen with a warning page that read in English: “DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR PC! IF YOU ABORT THIS PROCESS, YOU COULD DESTROY ALL YOUR DATA!”
Та-дам! Секретаріат КМУ по ходу теж "обвалили". Мережа лежить. pic.twitter.com/B74jMsT0qs— Rozenko Pavlo (@RozenkoPavlo) June 27, 2017
Ukraine has blamed Russia for previous cyberattacks, such as a software attack on its power grid in 2015, though there are no signs yet that Russia is involved in this particular wave of disruptions. Incidentally, company servers at Russia’s largest oil producer Rosneft were also targeted in this morning’s attacks.
An adviser to the Ukraine government, Anton Gerashchenko, told British newspaper the Telegraph that the hacks look like a version of the WannaCry malware that froze over 200,000 computers in May, including those in hospitals and clinics across the UK. That attack has since been linked to North Korea, according to reports from British Intelligence agencies.
It’s still too early to confirm if these disruptions are the second wave of what happened in May, especially since the full scale of this attack is still unclear. Following the attacks in Ukraine, reports have come in from the UK, Denmark, and Russia that similar software has taken down some of their government agencies and private firms.
It’s a wild day for many countries in Europe, and Ukraine may not be the only government looking for creative ways of calming down a jittery public. This may not, in other words, be the last time this GIF makes an appearance.