Hacking groups such as Anonymous and the Cyber Partisans have claimed responsibility for cyberattacks on Russia’s banks, state broadcaster RT, and a Belarusian rail network reportedly used to move troops from Russia to Ukraine.
The “biggest Anonymous op ever seen” was claimed as Russian news channels like Russia 24, Channel One, and Moscow 24, including streaming sites, showed footage of Russia’s actions in Ukraine.
Peace talks between the two countries are ongoing between the two nations, but it remains unclear how long the bloodshed will last. Currently, these cyber groups have said that they stand with Ukraine against Russia’s powerful online forces - causing disruption to stop the country’s own attacks against Ukraine and the West.
What is happening right now between Russia and Ukraine?
The Independent is constantly reporting on the situation between the two nations - with peace talks currently ongoing between Russia and Ukraine, but with no certainty that the conflict could come to an end.
The Ukrainian president’s office said earlier that the goal of the talks was an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said 16 Ukrainian children have been killed and another 45 have been injured in recent rocket strikes to the Ukranian city of Kharkiv. He added that 4,500 Russian troops have also been killed.
Anonymous attacks Russian governments’ websites, banks, and broadcaster
Among numerous attacks the hacking group Anonymous have made against Russia include claims of taking down state broadcaster RT, posting on Twitter that it took down the “propaganda station … in response to Kremlin’s brutal invasion”.
“After the statement by Anonymous, RT’s websites became the subject of a massive DDoS attack from nearly 100 million devices, mostly based in the US”, RT told The Independent in a statement.
“Due to the hack there were temporary website access limitations for some users, yet RT promptly resolved these issues.”
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are performed by overwhelming websites with junk traffic to render them unreachable. Similar attacks were performed on the websites of Ukraine’s defence, foreign, and interior ministries ahead of Russia’s invasion.
Vladimir Putin’s yacht renamed ‘FCKPTN’
The group has also claimed an attack on the Russian president’s luxury yacht, renaming it “FCKPTN” by vandalising maritime tracking data.
The hackers then renamed its destination to “anonymous” and “anonleaks”, before finally settling on “hell”. They claimed that they wanted to put the yacht in the scope of sanction packages and ‘put a little smile on some faces for a short period in these dark times’.
Belarus’ rail network systems encrypted to stop Russia moving troops to Ukraine
A group called the Cyber Partisans encrypted the data of parts of the Belarusian rail network, blocking trains in the cities of Minsk and Orsha, as well as the town of Osipovichi.
The hackers claimed that the attack was to “slow down the transfer” of troops moving from Belarus to northern Ukraine, saying that they had put the trains in “manual control” mode which would “significantly slow down the movement of trains, but will not create emergency situations.”
One former Belarus railway worker reportedly said that the systems in Minsk and Orsha had been “paralyzed”, but the situation remains unclear now. The Belarusian Railway did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent before time of publication.
Russian media sites replaced with ‘tombstone’ for war dead in mass cyber attack
Russian media sites, including TASS and Kommersant, were today replaced by a memorial for the war dead in a mass cyber attack.
The hackers appeared to associate themselves with Anonymous. The message included the number “5,300”, the number of Russian troops that Ukraine claims to have killed.
Anonymous encourages people to leave online reviews in Russia explaining situation in Ukraine
A Twitter account representing Anonymous has suggested that people leave online reviews for restaurants and other businesses in Russia in order to raise awareness of the situation in Ukraine.
Google had also been put under pressure to remove pro-Russia propaganda from YouTube. It has since suspended several Russian media channels from generating revenue on the video service due to the “extraordinary” nature of the invasion. The channels suspended included the state-funded RT.
Russian media outlets have been accused of spreading misinformation in order to justify the country’s actions in Ukraine.
Ukraine’s ‘IT Army’ grows to fight against Russia
Assisting in the rebellion against Russia, hundreds of thousands of people have joined an initative from the Ukrainian government to wage cyber attacks.
It suggested that it took down a technology used by Sberbank, one of Russia’s biggest banks. It has also indicated that it could have been behind attacks on other official websites.
The group has gained around 230,000 subscribers in the days since it was launched. Those who join are instructed to help with cyber attacks as well as other online efforts, including sending information to Belarus.
Meta sets up ‘special operations’ group to deal with Russian misinformation - and Russia fights back
Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has launched a dedicated force to combat fake news on social media.
“The situation in Ukraine is devastating,” the company’s president of global affairs and the UK’s former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said.
“We’ve established a Special Operations Center, staffed by experts and native speakers, to respond in real time to remove hate speech or content that incites violence or otherwise breaks our rules.
However, in retaliation to the move, Russia limited access to Facebook.
Meta said that it would label the accounts of Russian-owned media outlets, but Russian authorities said that the restrictions were “censorship” and accused Facebook of violating the human rights of its citizens.
It is not clear what those restrictions, put out by the country’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor, will actually involve.
Anonymous claims responsibility for 1,500 hacks
The hacking group has claimed that it has carried out 1,500 cyber attacks on the Russian and Belarusian governments over the past three days, including attacks on state systems, banks, and broadcasters.
However, anonymity is a double-edged sword; it can be a boon to have so many people working for a collective aim, but that collectivism can also make the group unpredictable and many can claim to be working under its philosophy without actually doing so.
A Twitter account claiming to represent the group has had to denounce a fake Anonymous video that claimed it would withdraw money from Russian citizens’ bank accounts if they did not come out in protest of President Putin’s actions.
Anonymous tweets message to Russian people
Another high-profile Anonymous account has tweeted a reassuring message to the Russian people, following apparently false claims that they would hack citizens’ bank accounts if they failed to protest.
“To the people of Russia: We do not want to fight with you”, the account tweeted, in Russian.
“Understand that Putin has invaded a sovereign nation and the whole world is outraged. We know it’s risky to stand up to him, but if you don’t, then who will?”
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