Posted on March 16, 2022 at 6:32 AM
300,000 Volunteer Hackers Are Launching Cyber War Against Russia
Over 300,000 volunteer hackers are reportedly helping Ukraine in the ongoing cyberwar against Russia. While physical warfare is ongoing in Ukraine, there is also a massive online war as both countries try to overpower the other in cyberspace.
The volunteers, which themselves “IT Army of Ukraine,” began with a few thousand members. But they have now grown into hundreds of thousands. The volunteers are given tasks that target Russian online facilities and websites.
According to Check Point Research (CPR), online attacks against the Ukrainian government and military sectors increased by 196% within the first three days after the Russian Invasion.
The global tracker on cyber attacks also noted that the attacks increased moderately by 4% against Russia and reduced in other parts of the world.
The massive increase in the number of volunteer hackers occurred after Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, made a request and posted a link for hackers who are interested to join on Twitter. The request gave instructions for those who want to support Ukraine in the fight against Russian hackers.
The Hackers Want To Level The Playing Field
One of the members of the group, Kali, who provided a fake name, stated that the idea is to paralyze the digital presence of the Belarusian railway and the Russian government.
Although Kali says what he is doing is illegal, he feels it’s justifiable considering that they are trying to level the playing field between Ukraine and one of the world’s superpowers, who have not ceased in its bombardment of Ukraine.
Gennady Galanter, another member of the group, said one of their goals is to stop the disinformation currently going on in Russia. He stated that they are getting the right information to residents in Russia concerning the situation of the war and how exactly things are unfolding. Many of the volunteer hackers kept their real identity hidden because they fear any retaliation from Russia. They are afraid of becoming a casualty in the cyberwar, as no one knows what Russia is planning and how far the situation will escalate.
The Cyber Attacks Have Been Successful
The activities of the IT Army of Ukraine have been reported by several international media outlets. NetBlocks, a platform that monitors global internet connectivity, stated that the threat actions from the group have been successful to some extent. They have disrupted Russia’s energy giant Gasprom, several banks, and state-owned media services. Also, since the invasion, the availability of the Kremlin and Russia’s lower house of parliament, Duma, has been “intermittent.”
“The crowdsourced attacks have been successful in disrupting Russian government and state-backed media websites,” according to the director of NetBlocks, Alp Toker.
He also noted that Russia is also looking to prevent the attacks and stop the hackers, by putting a filter when accessing certain websites. This has led to more disruption of services.
Federov has used his popularity and high fan base on Twitter to appeal to top executives at leading tech firms to stop their relationship and business dealings with Russia. This was followed by his post, requesting for as many volunteers as possible to join the hacktivist group he assembled.” There will be tasks for everyone,” he added on the Twitter post.
The Group Is Also Trying To Stop Disinformation
Kali says he is a teenager from Switzerland. He added that even though his country maintains a policy of military neutrality, he was motivated to join the hacktivist group after seeing Federov’s tweet. He admitted that his parents are not very keen on what he is doing, but try to keep it from them.
Many other hackers have joined the group who are like Kali. But Caroline, who is in her early twenties from New York, said she told her parents that she had enlisted into the IT army. She said although there weren’t many fusses about her decision, her parents have started getting worried.
Caroline said she was compelled to act and do something, after watching in horror as Instagram and Twitter videos revealed the devastating impact the war is having on Ukraine. According to her, misinformation about the war is causing a lot of damage, and she has joined that hacktivist group to help project the true picture of the war to Russian citizens and others that cannot access the right information.