Ukraine got an unlikely ally in its war against Russia’s invasion–a ‘hacktivist’ group. On Thursday, the popular cyber group claimed it has hacked Moscow’s central bank, threatening to release around 35,000 files “with secret agreements” within 48 hours.
The hacking collective has been active in targeting the Russian government and parties associated with the invasion attack ever since it has declared a cyberwar with Kremlin–calling it the “Operation Russia” to defend Ukraine.
Many databases belonging to retailers, Russian internet providers, and intergovernmental websites have been hacked by the group, including the Commonwealth of Independent States–a global coalition by Russia and other former Soviet Union countries. Files were erased or renamed to “putin_stop_this_war” while emails and credentials were exposed.
The group also claimed to have hacked Russian state TV stations to interrupt the broadcast with pro-Ukraine messages. The website disruptions extended to major Russian firms, such as state-owned energy firm Gazprom and state-sponsored media outfit Russian Today.
But beyond this, Anonymous is raising the ante and has been threatening hack attacks on western companies who continue to operate in Russia. The latest company embroiled in the digital war is the multinational food company Nestle, with the group leaking 10GB worth of company data.
The digital onslaughts on these companies have so far been effective. Nestle, in particular, has announced a day after the leak that it is now suspending a range of its brands in Russia.
The group renewed its call to the western firms to stop their operations in Russia, and it seems to be working. For instance, one of the named companies, cloud platform Teradata, immediately took to Twitter to clarify that it has already pulled out of Russia.
But as the war on ground seems to be far from over, so does the cyberwar. The group released a video on Thursday, calling cyber hackers to amass and put digital pressure on Kremlin to stop the war.
Anonymous also doesn’t just stop on websites and internal data. The group also encouraged its followers to do their own “hacking” using the dating app Tinder and “outsmart” Russia’s censorship on major western social media sites. The effort aims to send messages targeted to Russian citizens explaining the other side of the war as opposed to state-sponsored propaganda that’s left available to them.
In the website specialloveoperation.com, Tinder users are asked to send this message to Russian nationals: “Dear Russians, the West does not hate you. We hate the war. We hate the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The Russian army is killing innocent people while Putin is lying and hiding the truth from you. Your brothers and sisters are dying because of the madness and delusion of a dictator. Spread the truth. Make love, not war,” said the message.
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