A senior Ukrainian government cybersecurity official confirmed on Friday that thousands of volunteer hackers and IT professionals around the world are helping to defend Ukraine, and some are doing so by targeting Russian organizations with cyberattacks.
Russian media, which “constantly lie to their citizens” and financial organizations and transports that support the war effort, are among the potential targets of digital attacks from Ukraine’s so-called “IT army,” according to Viktor Zora, an official at Ukraine’s cybersecurity agency tasked with protecting government networks. .
The “IT Army” is a loose group of Ukrainian citizens and foreigners who are not part of the Ukrainian government – but are encouraged by Kyiv. It’s an example of how the Ukrainian government has pulled out all the stops to try to slow the Russian military offensive, and it shows how cyberattacks have played a supporting role in the war.
The goal of the “IT Army” of Ukraine is “to do everything possible … [the] “The attacker feels uncomfortable with his actions in cyberspace and on Ukrainian soil,” Zora told reporters in a video conference on Friday.
Hackers of all stripes – from anti-war Belarusians, to self-described Russian hackers – have entered the information war and claim to have hacked their opponents.
The website of Russian state media TASS was hacked on Monday and briefly displayed a message referring to Russian victims of the war in Ukraine and denouncing Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although it was not clear who the example was responsible for the hack, the logo of the hacking collective Anonymous appeared on the TASS website.
More background: In a call for volunteer hackers last Saturday, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov tweeted a link to a list of potential targets that included major Russian energy and financial firms.
She falsely asserted that any hacking by the “IT Army” was defensive in nature, and that the Ukrainian government was not responsible for cyberattacks carried out by volunteers on Russian organizations.
Zura said that Ukrainian cybersecurity officials are continuing their work protecting government networks despite Russian bombing of major Ukrainian cities.
“We are not afraid” of any escalation in cyberspace from Russia, Zora said.
“We are more afraid of missiles targeting Ukrainian schools, hospitals and residential neighborhoods,” he added.
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