SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 29 February 2024, Thursday |

Ukraine calls on hacker underground to defend against Russia

According to two persons involved in the effort, the Ukrainian government is looking for volunteers from the country’s hacker underground to assist secure key infrastructure and perform cyber surveillance missions against Russian forces.

On Thursday morning, when Russian soldiers stormed cities across Ukraine, pleas for volunteers began to surface on hacker forums, and many inhabitants left the capital Kyiv.

“Cybercommunity in Ukraine! It’s time to become active in our country’s cyber defense “According to the article, hackers and cybersecurity specialists should apply using Google Docs, outlining their specializations such as malware production and professional references.

Yegor Aushev, co-founder of a cybersecurity company in Kyiv, told Reuters he wrote the post at the request of a senior Defense Ministry official who contacted him on Thursday. Aushev’s firm Cyber Unit Technologies is known for working with Ukraine’s government on the defense of critical infrastructure.

Another person directly involved in the effort confirmed that the request came from the Defense Ministry on Thursday morning.

Ukraine Defense Ministry representatives did not respond to a request for comment. A defense attache at Ukraine’s embassy in Washington said he “cannot confirm or deny information from Telegram channels” referring to the mobile messaging platform, and declined further comment.

Aushev said the volunteers would be divided into defensive and offensive cyber units. The defensive unit would be employed to defend infrastructure such as power plants and water systems. In a 2015 cyberattack, widely attributed to Russia state hackers, 225,000 Ukrainians lost electricity.

The offensive volunteer unit Aushev said he is organizing would help Ukraine’s military conduct digital espionage operations against invading Russian forces.

“We have an army inside our country,” Aushev said. “We need to know what they are doing.”

On Wednesday, a newly discovered piece of destructive software was found circulating in Ukraine, hitting hundreds of computers, according to researchers at the cybersecurity firm ESET. Suspicion fell on Russia, which has repeatedly been accused of hacks against Ukraine and other countries. The victims included government agencies and a financial institution, Reuters previously reported.

Russia has denied the allegations.

The effort to build a cyber military force is coming late in the game, Aushev acknowledged.

A Ukrainian security official said earlier this month that the country had no dedicated military cyber force, the Washington Post reported. “It’s our task to create them this year,” he told the Washington Post.

Reached late Thursday night in Ukraine, Aushev said he already had received hundreds of applicants and was going to begin vetting to ensure that none of them were Russian agents.

    Source:
  • Reuters