According to the BBC, the international hacktivist collective Anonymous has launched a series of cyberattacks after declaring “cyber war” on Russian President Vladimir Putin in revenge for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The hacktivist collective Anonymous proclaimed in a tweet on February 25, one day after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that “the Anonymous collective is officially in cyber war against the Russian government.”
After uploading a short video clip of the breach on their social media accounts, Anonymous’ hack on Russian TV networks attracted global interest, garnering millions of viewers.
The footage showed regular Russian television programming being interrupted by images of bombs detonating in Ukraine and soldiers discussing the fight.
“On March 7, the cyber collective #Anonymous broke into Russia’s streaming services Wink and Ivi (similar to Netflix) as well as live TV networks Russia 24, Cannel One, and Moscow 24 to broadcast conflict footage from Ukraine,” the collective tweeted accompanying the video.
The hoax included all of the hallmarks of an Anonymous hack: The BBC noted in their report that the cyberattack was “impactful, dramatic, and easy to disseminate online,” but that it was difficult to determine who was behind it, as with the collective’s past cyberattacks.
One of the collective’s smaller groups claimed credit for the breach, which virtually took over Russian TV networks for 12 minutes. The compromised services are run by the Russian business Rostelecom, which did not respond to a request for comment from the BBC.
“If nothing is done to restore peace in Ukraine, we will continue our attacks against the Kremlin,” the group said, justifying their activities by claiming that Russia was slaughtering innocent Ukrainians.
Anonymous has also taken down Russian websites and stolen government data, including a March 1 database leak from Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development.
According to the BBC, Anonymous’ attacks have been “pretty simple,” but the TV hack was “very innovative” and “extremely difficult to carry off,” according to Lisa Forte, a partner at the security firm Red Goat.
DDoS attacks, in which hackers overwhelm a server with a stream of requests, are a pretty simple approach to carry out an attack and take down a website, she added.
Anonymous initially appeared on the website 4chan in 2003. The group’s catchphrase is ‘We are legion,’ and it is well-known for using DDoS assaults to target governments, corporations, and organizations accused of censorship.
The organization has a number of social media platforms, having 15.5 million followers on Twitter alone.
According to Forte, the collective’s hackers also damaged Russian websites by seizing control of them and altering the material shown. The attacks have caused some damage thus far, but cybersecurity experts are worried about an escalation.
In response to Anonymous’ intrusions, Emily Taylor of the Cyber Policy Journal told the BBC, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” “These attacks do pose a threat.
[They] may provoke an escalation, or some may inadvertently cause serious harm to a vital aspect of civilian life.”
Russia’s vigilante organizations have launched their own cyberattacks against Ukraine, although on a much lesser scale.
Three large waves of coordinated DDoS assaults on Ukraine have occurred since January 2022, as well as three other cases of more serious “wiper” attacks that wiped data on a small number of Ukrainian computer systems.