Despite the vaunted Russian cyber warfare capabilities, it appears that for now Moscow is on the receiving end of the cyber stick. ‘Anonymous,’ the global network of vigilante computer hackers, has been targeting Russia since Vlad the Invader Putin ordered his bloody, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Since February 24 the disparate group has been bombarding Russia with cyberattacks, targeting government institutions, state-controlled media, banks, businesses and just about anything linked to Russia.
‘Anonymous’ claims it has taken down or defaced Russian websites, stolen (and then publicly posted) government data, corrupted databases and sent more than 30 million anti-Putin text messages to Russian cell phones.
Cybersecurity firm, Security Discover, confirms the success of Anonymous’ hacking claims. In a random sampling of 100 Russian databases, it found 92 to have been compromised.
Jeremiah Fowler, a co-founder of Security Discovery, who worked with researchers at the web company Website Planet, verified that: “Anonymous has proven to be a very capable group that has penetrated some high value targets, records and databases in the Russian Federation,” he wrote in a report summarizing the findings.
But some attacks have more overt impact than others. The BBC reports:
Of all the cyber-attacks carried out since the Ukraine conflict started, an Anonymous hack on Russian TV networks stands out.
The hack was captured in a short video clip which shows normal programming interrupted with images of bombs exploding in Ukraine and soldiers talking about the horrors of the conflict.
The video began circulating on the 26 February and was shared by Anonymous social media accounts with millions of followers. “JUST IN: #Russian state TV channels have been hacked by #Anonymous to broadcast the truth about what happens in #Ukraine,” one post read.’
It quickly racked up millions of views.
All together, these attacks have caused disruption and embarrassed Russian authorities. In at least some cases they almost caused physical destruction, such as when the Russian gas control system in North Ossetia was hacked, almost causing the plant to blow up.
Meanwhile, Russian-backed hackers are retaliating against targets in Ukraine, but President Biden warns that Russia may not limit themselves to Europe and may resort to cyberattacks against the United States.