Anonymous news – live: Hackers claim to have breached Russian space agency as group trolls Putin

While Ukrainian forces fight against the Russian military's invasion, hackers from around the world are causing disruption to Russia’s digital infrastructure.

Hacking groups such as Anonymous and the Cyber Partisans have claimed responsibility for cyberattacks on Russia’s banks, state broadcaster RT, and a Belarusian rail network reportedly used to move troops from Russia to Ukraine.

Peace talks between the two countries are ongoing between the two nations, but it remains unclear how long the bloodshed will last. Currently, these cyber groups have said that they stand with Ukraine against Russia’s powerful online forces - causing disruption to stop the country’s own attacks against Ukraine and the West.

“DDoS alone will not bring down a regime”, one German Anonymous splinter group said in a blog post, but “Putin, who is using hacker squads and troll armies against Western democracies, is getting a sip of his own bitter medicine”.

The intention is to “keep the Russian IT apparatus busy and to provide Putin's hacker troops ... with defensive work so that they cannot do anything in Ukraine or the West . Obtaining information is also an important point and you just don't see a lot of what activists are currently doing.”

Key points

  • Russian ransomware hackers pledge support to Putin and immediately have secret chats exposed by Ukrainian leaker

  • Russian EV charging stations hacked with ‘Putin is a d***head’ message

  • Anonymous claims to have hacked Russian space agency

Russian EV charging stations hacked with ‘Putin is a d***head’ message

09:24 , Adam Smith

Russian hackers also changed the messages on electric vehicle charging stations to hurl curses at Vladimir Putin.

The chargers along the M11 motorway, which runs between Moscow and St Petersburg, were disabled and started to display pro-Ukrainian messages, according to social media users.

“Glory to Ukraine / Glory to the heroes / Putin is a d***head / Death to the enemy,” the message reportedly read.

Anonymous claims to have hacked Russian space agency

09:05 , Adam Smith

A group affiliated with Anonymous called NB6 has claimed to have hacked Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency.

#Russia has no more control over their own Spy-Satelites”, an Anonymous Twitter account posted.

The Independent has not been able to confirm the accuracy of these claims, and the space agency’s chief executive has denied that it has been affected.

Dmitry Rogozin said Wednesday that any claims of a hack are made by “fraudsters and pretty swindlers” and that “all our space control centers operate as usual".

Mr Rogozin has said previously that control of the Russian space industry, orbital group and the Russian International Space Station segment are thoroughly protected and isolated by cyber criminals, but threatened that sanctions placed against Russia could have a damaging affect on the ISS.

“If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States and Europe?” the space chief tweeted on Friday.

SpaceX chief Elon Musk, in response to the comment, said his company would step in to assist the station. Nasa has said it would “make every effort to continue as before … [despite] disagreements between our countries”.

Reddit quarantines r/Russia

Tuesday 1 March 2022 22:00 , Adam Smith

Reddit also quarantined its r/Russia subreddit for spreading misinformation, as well as the smaller subreddit r/RussiaPolitics - merely days after it was created in to discuss the politics of the invasion.

“We are clear in our policies that moderators and users may not attempt to manipulate and interfere with the conversations or communities on our platform,” a Reddit spokesperson told Mashable.

“In line with these policies, we have quarantined r/Russia and r/RussiaPolitics and removed a moderator for acting in bad faith. We have connected directly with the remaining moderators to provide guidance and remind them of our policies. We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as needed.”

Russian VPN use has increased dramatically

Tuesday 1 March 2022 21:00 , Adam Smith

In order to get around internet restrictions, Russian users have been downloading VPNs in order to access content from other nations.

Data from Atlas VPN claims that installs have risen by 1,90 per cent over the last few days so that users can continue to use services unrestricted.

“The start of physical attacks in Ukraine on February 24 gave rise to the never-seen-before upsurge in VPN demand. VPN installs reached record heights one day after another”, the company states.

“On February 25, VPN installs rose by 24 per cent above the average. The next day, on February 26, VPN installs originating from Russia sky-rocketed by 1,076 per cent over the norm. Still, this was not the end, as the following day, VPN installs went off the charts, soaring 1,906 per cent higher than the mean.”

BItcoin overtakes the Russian Ruble

Tuesday 1 March 2022 20:00 , Adam Smith

The damage that Russia’s invasion has done to its economy has meant that digital currency bitcoin has overtaken it in value.

The cryptocurrency reached above $41,000 on Monday afternoon, according to CoinMarketCap’s price index, having traded below $35,000 as recently as Thursday.

The Ruble fell by around 25 per cent in that same time period, dropping below $0.01 on Monday to a new record low.

“In these uncertain times, we have seen an uptick in the utility of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” Paolo Ardoino, CTO of the crypto exchange BitFinex, told The Independent.

“It goes without saying the defining characteristics of bitcoin allows it to act as a safe haven during turbulent times.”

TikTok takes action against Russia

Tuesday 1 March 2022 19:00 , Adam Smith

TikTok has also sanctioned pages or content posted by RT and Sputnik - something that could severely interfere with Russian disinformation.

In 2014, Russia flooded the internet with fake accounts pushing disinformation about its takeover of Crimea. Now, trolls and bots stir up anti-Ukrainian sentiment and it is unclear how close they are to the government.

“It could just be a patriotic Russian fighting the good fight as they see it, or it could easily be something directly affiliated with the state,” said Nina Jankowicz, a disinformation researcher and expert on Eastern Europe at the Wilson Center in Washington.

“Russia has been perfecting these tactics.”

YouTube bans Russian media

Tuesday 1 March 2022 18:00 , Adam Smith

As well as hackers, big tech companies have taken action against Russia.

Google has banned the YouTube channels of Russia Today and Sputnik in Europe.

“Due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, we’re blocking YouTube channels connected to RT and Sputnik across Europe, effective immediately,” Google said in a tweet.

“It’ll take time for our systems to fully ramp up. Our teams continue to monitor the situation around the clock to take swift action.”

Visitors to the channel saw a message reading: “This channel is not available in your country.” Similar messages appeared in countries across Europe.

Russian hackers’ cyberattacks on Ukraine could breach Geneva Conventions, Microsoft chief warns

Tuesday 1 March 2022 16:20 , Adam Smith

Microsoft’s president Brad Smith has said that Russia’s cyber attacks raise “serious concerns under the Geneva Convention”.

The attacks have been “precisely targeted”, with the company especially concerned about targets “including the financial sector, agriculture sector, emergency response services, humanitarian aid efforts, and energy sector organizations”

The Ukrainian government has also been warned about cyber attacks that could steal health, insurance, and transportation data that could personally identify citizens, Mr Smith went on.

However, while Microsoft says that the cyber attacks have been “offensive and destructive”, other experts have claimed they are “haphazard”.

“A plausible scenario for more devastating cyber-attacks was that Russia had planned this invasion for a long time, and prepositioned implants across Ukraine’s critical infrastructure in order to cause mass disruptions coinciding with the military invasion”, Dr Maschmeyer told The Guardian.

Devastating cyberattacks have “not played as large a component as some people thought it might and it definitely has not been seen outside of Ukraine to the extent that people feared,” said Michael Daniel, a former White House cybersecurity coordinator, but that the situation could “still change.”

Secret misinformation campaign is trying to trick people into using less secure messaging apps, Signal says

Tuesday 1 March 2022 13:34 , Adam Smith

A misinformation campaign is trying to trick people into using less secure messaging apps, encrypted chat platform Signal has said.

In recent days there have been a run of rumours attempting to suggest that the app has been “hacked and compromised” and that its security has been weakened, Signal said. But those rumours appear to be part of a messaging campaign aimed at encouraging people to stop using signal and move to less secure platforms, it said.

“We’ve had an uptick in usage in Eastern Europe & rumors are circulating that Signal is hacked & compromised. This is false. Signal is not hacked. We believe these rumors are part of a coordinated misinformation campaign meant to encourage people to use less secure alternatives,” the company wrote in a set of tweets.

“We’re seeing these rumors appear in messages forwarded on several different apps. These rumors are often attributed to official government sources and read ‘attacks on Signal platform.’ This is false and Signal is not under attack.”

Anonymous posts new message to Vladimir Putin

Tuesday 1 March 2022 11:31 , Adam Smith

A Twitter account representing the Anonymous hacking group has posted a new video directed at the Russian president.

“Mr Putin, the ongoing invasion of Ukraine has shown that your regime has no respect for human rights or the self determination of your neighbours”, it says.

“In the past several days a full scale invasion has commenced, civilian neighbourhoods have been bombed and innocent people have been killed. “Refugees are fleeing the violence and the population is being forced into conscription by Ukrainian officials.

“This is an ugly situation all around but you are the instigator.”

A ‘cyber free-for-all’ from Russia could still be launched on Ukraine

Tuesday 1 March 2022 11:30 , Adam Smith

So far, a massive attack on Ukraine’s digital infrastructure from Russia has not happened yet. Power plants and other critical infrastructure are still operational, despite Russia having a huge resource of hackers and online operatives such as the Internet Research Agency.

“It has not played as large a component as some people thought it might and it definitely has not been seen outside of Ukraine to the extent that people feared,” said Michael Daniel, a former White House cybersecurity coordinator. “Of course, that could still change.”

It is not clear why this has not happened; perhaps Russia believes that the impact is not serious enough, or that they could not do enough damage to Ukraine without collateral or knock-on effects for other nations.

Ukraine is currently being supported by a volunteer ‘IT Army’ in an attempt to help the country launch cyber attacks back at Russia.

What is inside the Conti leak?

Tuesday 1 March 2022 11:22 , Adam Smith

Marcus Hutchins, the British computer expert who helped shut down NHS cyberattack in 2017, has offered some insight into the scale of the Conti leak.

“This is the kind of stuff that almost never gets seen by anyone outside cybersecurity or law enforcement”, he tweeted, highlighting the billions the gang had made and an “unnamed journalist [that] offered to help Conti extort companies ... in return for a 5% commission”

Russian ransomware hackers have secret chats exposed by Ukrainian leaker

Tuesday 1 March 2022 11:17 , Adam Smith

A ransomware cabal that pledged support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been hacked.

“If anybody will decide to organize a cyberattack or any war activities against Russia, we are going to use our all possible resources to strike back at the critical infrastructures of an enemy,” a blog post by the Conti hackers read.

Shortly after, a cache of chat logs belonging to the Conti ransomware gang leaked online by an insider who objected to their support of Vladimir Putin.

“Fuck the Russian government”, the leaker said in their message. “Glory to Ukraine!”

Russian media sites hacked by Anonymous again

Tuesday 1 March 2022 09:12 , Adam Smith

Russian media site Fontanka, state-owned news agency Tass and daily newspaper Kommersant were all hacked by Anonymous yesterday.

A message warning readers of “certain death” for troops in Ukraine was shared across their platforms.

The message on Fontaka read in full: “Dear citizens. We urge you to stop this madness, do not send your sons and husbands to certain death. Putin makes us lie and puts us in danger.

“We were isolated from the whole world, they stopped buying oil and gas. In a few years we will live like in North Korea. What is it for us?

“To put Putin in the textbooks? This is not our war, let’s stop it! This message will be deleted, and some of us will be fired or even jailed. But we can’t take it anymore.

“Indifferent journalists of Russia.”

Anonymous tweets message to Russian people

Monday 28 February 2022 22:30 , Adam Smith

Another high-profile Anonymous account has tweeted a reassuring message to the Russian people, following apparently false claims that they would hack citizens’ bank accounts if they failed to protest.

“To the people of Russia: We do not want to fight with you”, the account tweeted, in Russian.

“Understand that Putin has invaded a sovereign nation and the whole world is outraged. We know it’s risky to stand up to him, but if you don’t, then who will?”

Anonymous claims responsibility for 1,500 hacks

Monday 28 February 2022 21:51 , Adam Smith

The hacking group has claimed that it has carried out 1,500 cyber attacks on the Russian and Belarusian governments over the past three days, including attacks on state systems, banks, and broadcasters.

However, anonymity is a double-edged sword; it can be a boon to have so many people working for a collective aim, but that collectivism can also make the group unpredictable and many can claim to be working under its philosophy without actually doing so.

A Twitter account claiming to represent the group has had to denounce a fake Anonymous video that claimed it would withdraw money from Russian citizens’ bank accounts if they did not come out in protest of President Putin’s actions.

Meta sets up ‘special operations’ group to deal with Russian misinformation - and Russia fights back

Monday 28 February 2022 17:30 , Adam Smith

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has launched a dedicated force to combat fake news on social media.

“The situation in Ukraine is devastating,” the company’s president of global affairs and the UK’s former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said.

“We’ve established a Special Operations Center, staffed by experts and native speakers, to respond in real time to remove hate speech or content that incites violence or otherwise breaks our rules.

However, in retaliation to the move, Russia limited access to Facebook.

Meta said that it would label the accounts of Russian-owned media outlets, but Russian authorities said that the restrictions were “censorship” and accused Facebook of violating the human rights of its citizens.

It is not clear what those restrictions, put out by the country’s communications regulator Roskomnadzor, will actually involve.

Ukraine’s ‘IT Army’ grows to fight against Russia

Monday 28 February 2022 17:00 , Adam Smith

Assisting in the rebellion against Russia, hundreds of thousands of people have joined an initative from the Ukrainian government to wage cyber attacks.

It suggested that it took down a technology used by Sberbank, one of Russia’s biggest banks. It has also indicated that it could have been behind attacks on other official websites.

The group has gained around 230,000 subscribers in the days since it was launched. Those who join are instructed to help with cyber attacks as well as other online efforts, including sending information to Belarus.

Anonymous encourages people to leave online reviews in Russia explaining situation in Ukraine

Monday 28 February 2022 16:59 , Adam Smith

A Twitter account representing Anonymous has suggested that people leave online reviews for restaurants and other businesses in Russia in order to raise awareness of the situation in Ukraine.

Google had also been put under pressure to remove pro-Russia propaganda from YouTube. It has since suspended several Russian media channels from generating revenue on the video service due to the “extraordinary” nature of the invasion. The channels suspended included the state-funded RT.

Russian media outlets have been accused of spreading misinformation in order to justify the country’s actions in Ukraine.

Earlier this month, Boris Johnson said an attack on a kindergarten in Ukraine was a “false flag operation” by Russia which has been designed to “discredit” the Ukrainians. “We fear very much that that is a thing we will see more of over the next few days,” he added.

Russian media sites replaced with ‘tombstone’ for war dead in mass cyber attack

Monday 28 February 2022 16:15 , Adam Smith

Russian media sites, including TASS and Kommersant, were today replaced by a memorial for the war dead in a mass cyber attack.

The hackers appeared to associate themselves with Anonymous. The message included the number “5,300”, the number of Russian troops that Ukraine claims to have killed.

It also includes anti-war messages, suggesting that Vladimir Putin has begun the war to “get into the history books”.

Belarus’ rail network systems encrypted to stop Russia moving troops to Ukraine

Monday 28 February 2022 15:55 , Adam Smith

A group called the Cyber Partisans encrypted the data of parts of the Belarusian rail network, blocking trains in the cities of Minsk and Orsha, as well as the town of Osipovichi.

The hackers claimed that the attack was to “slow down the transfer” of troops moving from Belarus to northern Ukraine, saying that they had put the trains in “manual control” mode which would “significantly slow down the movement of trains, but will not create emergency situations.”

One former Belarus railway worker reportedly said that the systems in Minsk and Orsha had been “paralyzed”, but the situation remains unclear now. The Belarusian Railway did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent before time of publication.

Vladimir Putin’s yacht renamed ‘FCKPTN’

Monday 28 February 2022 15:52 , Adam Smith

The group has also claimed an attack on the Russian president’s luxury yacht, renaming it “FCKPTN” by vandalising maritime tracking data.

The hackers then renamed its destination to “anonymous” and “anonleaks”, before finally settling on “hell”. They claimed that they wanted to put the yacht in the scope of sanction packages and ‘put a little smile on some faces for a short period in these dark times’.

Anonymous attacks Russian governments’ websites, banks, and broadcaster

Monday 28 February 2022 15:48 , Adam Smith

Among numerous attacks the hacking group Anonymous have made against Russia include claims of taking down state broadcaster RT, posting on Twitter that it took down the “propaganda station … in response to Kremlin’s brutal invasion”.

“After the statement by Anonymous, RT’s websites became the subject of a massive DDoS attack from nearly 100 million devices, mostly based in the US”, RT told The Independent in a statement.

“Due to the hack there were temporary website access limitations for some users, yet RT promptly resolved these issues.”

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are performed by overwhelming websites with junk traffic to render them unreachable. Similar attacks were performed on the websites of Ukraine’s defence, foreign, and interior ministries ahead of Russia’s invasion.

What is happening right now between Russia and Ukraine?

Monday 28 February 2022 15:46 , Adam Smith

The Independent is constantly reporting on the situation between the two nations - with peace talks currently ongoing between Russia and Ukraine, but with no certainty that the conflict could come to an end.

The Ukrainian president’s office said earlier that the goal of the talks was an immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said 16 Ukrainian children have been killed and another 45 have been injured in recent rocket strikes to the Ukranian city of Kharkiv. He added that 4,500 Russian troops have also been killed.