300,000 Volunteer Hackers Fight Russia

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  • IT experts participate in fighting Russia.
  • Ukraine has 290,000 people who work in IT and is the world’s outsourcing tech desk.
  • These volunteers might start attacking targets that are not really what the Ukrainian government wants.

Ukraine requested a global army of IT experts to assist in the fight against Putin, and many responded as reported by The Guardian.

Digital presence

Kali learned how to use technology by playing with his grandfather’s phone.

Now, the Swiss teenager is trying to paralyse the digital presence of the Russian government and the Belarussian railway.

He is one of about 300,000 people who have signed up to a group on the chat app Telegram called “IT Army of Ukraine”, through which participants are assigned tasks designed to take the fight to Vladimir Putin.

The sites for state-owned media services, several banks and the energy giant Gazprom have also been targeted.

“The crowdsourced attacks have been successful in disrupting Russian government and state-backed media websites,” says Alp Toker, the director of NetBlocks.

Military neutrality

Like many of his peers, Kali was directed to the Telegram group, which has Ukrainian- and English-language versions, by Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister for digital transformation.

While his home country has long maintained a policy of military neutrality, Kali was spurred to action when he saw Fedorov’s tweet. 

“I’m from Switzerland, but I’m a strong hacker and I’m so sorry for every Ukrainian.”

I think if we hack Russia’s infrastructure they will stop, maybe, because nothing will work anymore.”

Kali says his parents aren’t especially keen on what he is doing, although he tries not to tell them much about it.

“They’re starting to get concerned,” she says.

Impact of conflict

Having watched in horror as Twitter and Instagram videos revealed the devastating impact the conflict is having on Ukrainian civilians, Caroline felt compelled to act when she saw Fedorov’s tweet.

“The 2016 election was an eye-opener to the unfortunate effects of these things, and how it really does affect some of our relationships out in the real world.”

There was just one problem: she didn’t know what Telegram was.

Unlike Kali, the former preschool teacher isn’t much of a hacker.

But, after some research, she downloaded it and joined the group.

So, she has been helping the English-language group by collating information for a website on how to support Ukraine and fight Russian disinformation campaigns. 

Counter-propaganda 

Enrique is a Lithuanian IT expert in his mid-30s.

“I hope the world can put pressure on Russian people so much that they would be willing to re-evaluate their upbringing, understand that people are asking them to help, look at what is really happening and perhaps they will rise up that way,” he says.

Enrique has been inspired by the bravery of the Ukrainian people.

That includes those who have taken to the streets to defend their country – and those who have taken to their keyboards.

Ukraine has 290,000 people who work in IT and is the world’s outsourcing tech desk.

He has been using his expertise to send what he calls “counter-propaganda” to Russians through advertising platforms. 

Demonstrate the truth

The Ukrainian advertising industry has sent what Sam calls “aggressive” videos that show captured Russian soldiers pleading with their mothers and trying to convince them about the reality of war in Ukraine.

“Everything is being streamed to everybody.

Everything is online and easy to understand how to damage.”

Alex, a Ukrainian software engineer, says the Telegram group is mostly used for DDoS attacks. “My ideal way would be to do something that will demonstrate the truth for [Russians],” says Alex.

Cybersecurity experts

Some cybersecurity experts are worried, though. 

“These volunteers might start attacking targets that are not really what the Ukrainian government wants,” he says. 

How often has ransomware spilt over and affected, say, a hospital?

The fear of infiltration is something that also concerns Agnes Venema, a national security and intelligence academic at the University of Malta. 

“I don’t care about it,” says Kali, who as we spoke was trying to DDoS a Russian news website that the Ukrainian IT army administrators had flagged as a source of disinformation. 

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Source: The Guardian

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