How Are Technology Giants Responding to Russia & Ukraine Conflict?
Russian forces invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022 following months of military buildups along the country’s borders.
Russian-led invasions on land, sea, and air followed a wave of cyberattacks that inundated Ukrainian government buildings with internet traffic and malware that wiped data. Ukraine’s government claims it has “unambiguously tied” Moscow to hacks that have disrupted the country’s media.
U.S. friends and NATO allies reacted angrily to the Russian incursion into Ukraine by threatening to impose wide-ranging financial and diplomatic sanctions on Russia, a move that may have a significant impact on the area’s economy.
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The Horrendous Impact on Ukrainian Businesses
Ukrainian digital startups and more prominent companies, as well as research and development facilities for some of the world’s most well-known technology brands, are feeling the effects of the invasion. Digital Marketing in Ukraine has become more challenging than ever before.
It was verified to us by the director of a big IT business, who requested anonymity to protect his company’s workers, that it is now working on a plan to evacuate all of its Ukrainian personnel. As a result of a ban on all airspace, public transit is mainly out of service, making the situation more complicated. The current strategy is to find a way to bring employees into either Hungary or Poland over the border.
Startups in Ukraine will also suffer significantly due to the current circumstances.
Readdle, a Ukrainian firm that provides PDF, email, and other productivity tools, is one of the most well-known Ukrainian bootstrapped companies. Denys Zhadanov, the company’s principal spokesman and managing director, postponed a phone interview for this article because there were too many urgent matters to attend to.
“We’ve been implementing our business continuity strategies now,” he added. Readdle goods and services remain operational, and no evacuation of the Readdle staff has occurred. “
The fact that Readdle now employs employees in 11 different nations is a testament to the company’s worldwide expansion, according to Zhadanov. According to him, a “significant portion” of the squad remains in Ukraine.
His last words were that “Ukraine is home to the greatest engineers, designers, and other technical specialists. I’m aware that many IT CEOs have decided to remain in Ukraine. To support the county and its people, many of them are volunteering and offering their time.”
How Are Digital Brands in Ukraine Suffering?
Many other Ukrainian start-ups are also facing the downturn’s effects (and need your help if you’re motivated to do so). It includes the home wireless security firm of Ajax, the AI-based grammar and writing engine of Grammarly, the face-swapping app of Reface, the camera system for pets of PETCUBE, the sales and marketing intelligence of People AI, and the marketplace of language tutors of PREPLY. All of these services are based on artificial intelligence (AI). One concern is how and if these firms’ ties with some of the world’s most prominent VCs will be affected by the current disclosures.
When it comes to software development for Mac, Ukraine-based company MacPaw says its infrastructure is hosted on Amazon Web Services and physically situated outside of the country, even if its headquarters are in Kyiv. Paddle, its payment processor, is situated in the United Kingdom and predicts that “nothing will change” for its consumers. We’re ready to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine at this time,” MacPaw said in a blog post in an email.
The hit on Grand Technology Businesses
Besides startups, there are giant IT corporations with R&D operations outside of the nation and staff offering local services, ranging from content to advertising sales.
Users of consumer-facing platforms like YouTube or ByteDance TikTok may wonder how such platforms are being utilized — or misused— to spread misinformation, as well as how the firms themselves are dealing with this kind of traffic.. It’s also a concern about how services are being maintained and if they are in danger of being shut down due to sanctions or Internet service outages. Amazon, Apple, ByteDance, Facebook, Google, Meta, and Snap have all been contacted for comment. We’ll keep you updated as we get more information. When Microsoft was contacted, they refused to comment.
A few other points to note for now:
Around 200 Google employees seem to be based nationwide, focusing on both global service R&D and regional operations. There have been a lot of concerns with YouTube filtering in Russia over the years, but there hasn’t been anything comparable in Ukraine so far. Even digital marketing in Russia is a real challenge.
Despite being available in nine locations throughout Ukraine as of 2016, Uber has temporarily halted operations there. Workers and their families in Kyiv were given the option of relocating to other areas of Ukraine or other countries on a short-term basis. Uber advises its drivers and passengers to remain at home.
For the safety of Uber passengers, drivers, and workers, we are doing all we can. As soon as it is safe to do so, we will restore service,” Uber told a technology magazine, citing a cross-functional team monitoring the issue.
As a result, Lyft has likewise taken measures to protect its Ukrainian staff.
“The safety and well-being of our employees in Ukraine is our top concern. We’re offering financial assistance for disaster planning and relocation, as well as more vacation time and access to mental health services for individuals who need it.” Lyft representative Ashley Adams tells a magazine that the company is actively watching the situation and will continue to review its reaction as appropriate. In a December blog post, Lyft said that it planned to grow its Kyiv office, which launched in April, and that it had 60 workers in Ukraine. However, Lyft only has a presence in the country’s engineering office and does not provide any ridesharing services.
Aside from its parent company, ByteDance, it is unknown how many workers there are in Ukraine for the popular video-sharing app TikTok. The company does, however, have a top-rated app, with a reach estimated to be 30% in the nation last year, tripling from the year before when Navalny’s anti-Putin campaign took off last year.
In a statement, a TikTok spokeswoman stated, “The safety of our community and our workers is our first concern.” To keep our platform safe, we remove material that includes harmful disinformation and continues to monitor and devote resources to the problem as it develops.”
Nathaniel Gleicher, the director of Facebook’s security policy, tweeted about the company’s reaction to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To “closely monitor the situation and respond as quickly as possible,” Gleicher said that Facebook has set up a Special Operations Center with native speakers. Also, in Ukraine, the platform has enabled a feature that prevents individuals who are not friends with a user from downloading or sharing their profile image or seeing the posts on their timeline.
It’s the same technique Facebook adopted earlier this year in Afghanistan to safeguard its users. Users in Afghanistan were also briefly denied access to their “Friends” list, and Instagram began displaying pop-up warnings instructing them on how to safeguard their accounts. Both of these restrictions have yet to be implemented for Ukrainian accounts.
Twitter has issued a security alert for Ukrainian users, advising them to take precautions, including enabling two-factor authentication and blocking location tracking in tweets. When Twitter announced that it had inadvertently terminated accounts providing information about Russia’s military actions before the invasion, it was a dramatic change of heart.
Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince said the business has “removed all Cloudflare client cryptographic material from servers in Ukraine” only hours after the invasion started, in an attempt to preserve customer data and communications if the data center is hacked or otherwise compromised. On Cloudflare’s website, the business states that its Kyiv data center was established in 2016.
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