Cyber War in Ukraine and Russia Flares Up as Invasion Continues
As the invasion in Ukraine progresses at a slow pace and after Russian troops captured the city of Kherson today, another conflict unfolds unseen. Cyberattacks seem to be exchanged between the two countries, while free actors join the cyber war on both fronts.
The cyberattack on Ukraine that started ahead of the Russian land and airborne invasion, using destructive computer malware, have subsided. However, there seems to be a new front of cyber warfare developing.
Anonymous targets Russia
Over the last few days, the decentralized global hacker collective known as "Anonymous" took credit for a number of cyberattacks on Russian websites and media. The attacks included distributed denial of service that effectively brought pages down temporarily, as well as the switching of media streams broadcast on national Russian television channels.
The TV channels that got hacked were set to broadcast Ukrainian music and imagery, as well as footage from non-Russian media showing the developments in Ukraine.
Recently the formation of a Ukrainian "cyber guerrilla warfare group" was announced. The goal of this unit would be to launch attacks on Russian infrastructure. Reuters reported that the Ukrainian government sought the help of a local expert on digital security to enlist this new team.
The end goal of those attacks is to disrupt Russian supply lines and attempt to put an end to the ongoing war. Additionally, there are reports that the unit has already launched one joint attack on Russian railway systems, with the help of third-party hacktivist members.
The hacktivist collective known as Cyber Partisans has also joined the fight on Ukraine's side, it seems. The Cyber Partisans are a Belarusian group. Reuters reported that the Cyber Partisans group claimed responsibility for the takedown of a website handling online ticket purchasing for train travel in Belarus.
Russian vigilante hackers attack Ukraine
On the other side, there are also what the BBC called "vigilante" Russian hackers. One of them, when interviewed anonymously by the BBC, stated that he wanted to help Russia in the war with Ukraine out of "patriotism" and launch attacks on Ukrainian websites and infrastructure when he is done with his day job.
The cyberattacks will no doubt continue on both sides, but unlike hack attacks, real warfare keeps taking its toll in Ukraine. There was talk of the possibility of more peace talks and negotiations between Ukraine and Russia. However, hopes aren't too high, as Russia continued shelling Ukrainian targets even as the negotiations were in progress a couple of days ago.