Anonymous in “cyberwar” with Russia. What does it mean?

Russia launched a three-pronged invasion of Ukraine early on Thursday, February 24, “bombarding towns, villages and villages” as forces advanced towards the Eastern European country’s capital, Kiev.

Today, Anonymous, a renowned international hacker group, declared a cyberwar against Russia, which is blamed for its own cyberattacks against Ukraine. President Biden was also reportedly given options for “massive cyberattacks” to target Russia and complicate its invasion.

But what might a cyberwar look like?

Probably nothing like you imagine seeing in the movies. Patrick Juola, professor of computer science and coordinator of cybersecurity studies at Duquesne University, told McClatchy News that “we’re not going to see any weird sci-fi dystopia stuff.”

“I don’t know of anyone who has the ability to take self-driving cars and send them into buildings,” Juola said. “Even military drones are on special secure networks to keep them safe.”

Along with its military invasion, Russia has been accused of undermining Ukraine’s cybersecurity, CNBC reported. Reported cyberattacks, targeting both the banking system and the Ukrainian government, included malware capable of wiping data from any targeted organization and a DDoS attack on Wednesday, February 23, which crippled the websites of government agencies and Ukrainian financial institutions.

The Russian Embassy in the United States rejected these “baseless statements by the administration” and said that “Russia has nothing to do with the events mentioned” and “never conducted and does not conduct any “malicious” action cyberspace operations.”

Still, Victor Zhora, vice-president of Ukraine’s State Service for Special Communications and Information Protection, told Politico that the Ukrainian government is “preparing to erase its computer servers and move its sensitive data out of Kiev if Russian troops decide to take the capital”.

Anonymous joined the cyber war in support of Ukraine, announcing on February 24 that it was “officially in cyber war against the Russian government.”

The following day, the group announced that the The Russian Defense Ministry website was down.

The group took to Twitter to take credit for targeting Russian websites. In a video addressed to Russian President Vladimir Putin on February 26, the group called on Putin to “restore the rights of the Ukrainian people and step down as elected officials.”

Anonymous has ongoing operations to keep .ru government websites offline and to deliver information to the Russian people so they can be freed from Putin’s state censorship machine,” the group said. “We also have operations underway to keep Ukrainians in line as best we can.”

On February 26, Anonymous said it had hacked into Russian televisions to broadcast the “reality of what is happening in Ukraine”. Forbes and The Kyiv Independenta Ukrainian newspaper, reported that Russian TV channels had been hacked and were now playing Ukrainian songs.

Ukraine is not the only government feeling the threat of potential cyberattacks. Several world leaders have issued warnings and are worried about a potential “cyberwar”.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is part of the US government, posted a warning on its website.

“Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, which has been accompanied by cyberattacks on the Ukrainian government and critical infrastructure organizations, could have consequences for our own country’s critical infrastructure, a potential that we been warning for months,” the agency said.

The agency said that while “there are no specific or credible threats to the American homeland at this time”, it is aware of the “potential for destabilizing actions by Russia”.

CISA advised every organization to be “prepared to respond to disruptive cyber activity.”

John Hultquist, vice president of intelligence analysis at Mandiant, said cyberwar is “highly possible”, but added that “most cyberattacks we’ve seen have been non-violent and largely reversible”. reported CNBC.

Hitesh Sheth, CEO of Vectra AI, a company that uses artificial intelligence to detect cyberattacks, told the outlet that Russia could “launch retaliatory cyberattacks in response to Western sanctions.”

Scott Jasper, senior lecturer in national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, warned in The Conversation that the Russian government has the ability “to damage critical infrastructure systems in the United States.”

In 2020, hackers from the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service gained access to “at least nine US federal agencies and around 100 private companies, many of them in information technology and cybersecurity”, he said. . Hackers went unnoticed for months.

Hackers can overload bank and government websites, corrupt data, cut power to energy and electric utilities, among other things, Jasper said.

“It’s impossible to be certain that there aren’t more Russian government hackers lurking undetected in critical businesses and systems in the United States,” Jasper said in The Conversation. “And wherever they are, they can have the ability to cause significant damage.”

It’s also important to remember that Anonymous is very talented, Juola said.

“One of the most important things they can do is stop Putin from telling people inside and outside Russia the lies he needs to tell to keep the situation under control,” he added.

But he doesn’t think the American public will be much affected.

“Anonymous focuses on Russia and is scattered around the world. Putin and the Russian military are focused on Ukraine,” he said. “Russian hackers might be able to crash, but that wouldn’t help Russia.”

This story was originally published February 26, 2022 12:57 p.m.

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