Ukraine now has the identity of 120,000 Russian soldiers, thanks to Anonymous. Photo: Shutterstock
Revelations about the butchery of Russian troops in Ukraine have prompted hacking group Anonymous to redouble their attacks on the Russian government and institutions, as it declares war on private companies just days after publishing the personal details of 120,000 Russian invaders.
The list of soldiers, which was published online for public consumption after being leaked to Ukrainian authorities in early March, includes names, addresses, passports and other details – a major compromise by the Russian Armed Forces apparently intended to facilitate the identification of perpetrators during war crimes investigations.
The group went to name the Russian commander she says is responsible for the massacre in the town of Bucha, where investigators discovered the bodies of hundreds of civilians murdered in cold blood by Russian occupying forces.
Reports suggest that Anonymous provided the spoils of its information war with the Ukrainian government – including the Ministry of Defense would have published a list of details of 620 Russian spies and FSB intelligence agents – and the group promised a dump of bank data after reporting it had hacked into Russia’s Central Bank.
The gratuitous hacking of Russian targets characterizes an escalation of the conflict outside the parameters of kinetic conflict – and analysts believe that continued intervention by Anonymous could prove deadly effective in destabilizing business and government confidence in Russia and in outside of it.
“It creates a situation where it adds chaos,” said Spencer Wilcox, chief security officer and executive director of technology and security at PNM Resources, during a recent (ISC)2 webinar analyzing the cyber warfare that emerged around the Ukrainian invasion of Russia.
“It’s the same thing you saw on the high school playground, where you saw a fight and someone else ran up and said ‘go get him’. And that’s the kind of situation we see now.
“You have a group of people who come in and create opportunistic targets. They also share with anyone who cares, secrets that are obtained from allegedly Russian targets.
Extend the reach of his war
Even as Western political leaders struggle to rise to the challenge of further tightening sanctions on Russia without provoking all-out war, there are signs that Anonymous has widened the scope of its attacks and is now targeting the entirety of what rest of Russia’s crippled economy.
“Civil businesses are now in our sights,” the hacking group tweeted recently as it announcement the ransomware compromise of Continent Express, a Russian travel management company that anonymous subsidiary Network Battalion 65 (NB65) claimed to have infected with Conti ransomware.
“We have warned you that no technology accessible on the Internet is prohibited to us,” the group wrote. “We have repeatedly warned you that until you stop, we will push harder and harder until we cripple every piece of technology, every information system and every network we find.”
“Having seen the needless loss of life and destruction caused by the hands of Russian soldiers against unarmed civilians, we double our word…. You can blame your president for all of this.
Anonymous has previously threatened Western companies that continue to operate in Russia, but its attack on non-governmental sovereign companies reflects a further escalation in a sustained hacking campaign that also recently saw the release of 786.2GB of e-mail. emails and files. taken from Russian public broadcaster VGTRK.
The emails are said to have spanned 22 years and are dated March this year, discussing operational issues as well as the escalation of international sanctions against Russia.
Anonymous declared a cyberwar against the Russian government at the start of the invasion, hitting a series of targets including the Russian central bank and hacking into VGTRK. subsidiary stations broadcast uncensored footage of the Ukrainian invasion.
Compromises are likely to continue, Wilcox said, warning that some activities may be false flag deceptions, but likening the growing campaign of hackers to non-governmental organizations that engage for humanitarian or other reasons in times of conflict. .
“I would expect we would see a continued escalation of non-state actors,” he said, “to sow chaos among the people we care for to be enemies of the west” .
The indiscriminate hacking of private sector companies could particularly challenge the insurance industry, which is struggling to cope with spiraling cybersecurity losses and – following a ruling that cyberwarfare is actuarially different from physical warfare – could start to move away from cybersecurity assurance as uncertainty dominates.
“We’re going to see insurance companies start to exit the markets because it’s too chaotic,” Wilcox said. “It’s not something they can bet on and be effective in determining who those targets will be. And that’s not how insurance works.