The Anonymous hacktivist collective has actually been bombarding Russia with cyber-attacks since declaring "cyber war" on President Vladimir Putin in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. Numerous people operating under its banner spoke to the BBC about their intentions, strategies and plans.
Of all the cyber-attacks performed since the Ukraine dispute began, an Anonymous hack on Russian television networks sticks out.The hack was caught in a brief video clip which shows normal programming disrupted with pictures of bombs exploding in Ukraine and soldiers speaking about the scaries of the conflict.
The video began circulating on the 26 February and was shared by Anonymous social networks accounts with countless fans. "JUST IN: #Russian state television channels have actually been hacked by #Anonymous to transmit the fact about what takes place in #Ukraine," one post read.
It rapidly acquired millions of views.
The stunt has all the trademarks of an Anonymous hack - dramatic, impactful and simple to share online. Like a lot of the group's other cyber-attacks it was likewise incredibly difficult to validate.
However among the smaller groups of Anonymous hackers stated that they were responsible, and that they took over television services for 12 minutes.
The first person to publish the video was likewise able to confirm it was real. Eliza lives in the US but her father is Russian and called her when his TV shows were interrupted. "My dad called me when it happened and said, 'Oh my God, they're showing the reality!' So I got him to record it and I posted the clip online. He states among his friends saw it occur too."
Rostelecom, the Russian company that runs the hacked services did not react to ask for comment.The hackers validated their actions stating innocent Ukrainians were being massacred. "We will intensify the attacks on the Kremlin, if nothing is done to bring back peace in Ukraine," they added.
Anonymous says it has also taken down Russian websites and stolen government data, but Lisa Forte, a partner at cyber-security company Red Goat says most of these attacks have up until now been "quite basic".
Hackers have actually primarily been using DDoS attacks, where a server is overwhelmed by a flood of requests, she stated. These are relatively easy to carry out and only take sites offline briefly.
" But the TV hack is incredibly imaginative," she said, "and I would believe quite difficult to pull off."
Who are Anonymous?
The group has no leadership, its tagline is "We are legion"
Anyone can declare to be a part of the group and hack for any cause they want, however they generally they assault organisations implicated of misusing power.Their symbol is a Guy Fawkes mask, made well-known by Alan Moore's graphic novel V for Vendetta in which an anarchist revolutionary falls a corrupt fascist government.
The group has numerous social media accounts, with 15.5 million fans on its Twitter pages alone.Confidential hackers have actually likewise ruined Russian sites. Specialty says this includes gaining control of a website to alter the material displayed.
Up until now, the attacks have actually triggered interruption and humiliation, however cyber-experts have become progressively worried by the explosion of hacktivism since the invasion.
They are worried that a hacker may accidentally knock out a hospital's computer network or interrupt important communication links." I've never seen anything like this," says Emily Taylor from the Cyber Policy Journal.
" These attacks do bring threats. [They] might lead to escalation, or someone could accidentally cause genuine damage to a critical part of civilian life."
Anonymous has not been this active in years. Roman, a Ukrainian tech business owner who heads a group of hackers called Stand for Ukraine, had no links with the organisation up until Russia attacked his country.
But he informed me that when he and his team briefly ruined the site of the Russian state news agency, Tass, with an anti-Putin poster, they included an Anonymous logo design.Roman works from his house in Kyiv, co-ordinating his group as they produce sites, Android apps and Telegram bots to help Ukraine's war effort, and hack Russian targets.
" I am ready to go and pick up a rifle for Ukraine, but at the moment my abilities are better utilized at the computer system. So I'm here in my home with my 2 laptops, co-ordinating this IT resistance."
He says his group took a Russian local train ticket service offline for a number of hours, although the BBC has not had the ability to validate this.He safeguards his actions stating: "These things are unlawful and incorrect till there is a threat to you or your relative."Another group that has combined with Anonymous is a Polish hacking team called Squad 303, called after a famous Polish fighter squadron in World War Two.
" We work together with Anonymous all the time and I now consider myself a member of the Anonymous motion," states one of the group, who utilizes the name of WW2 pilot Jan Zumbach as his moniker.
He didn't desire his picture released but another member of his group, a Ukrainian, sent out an image of himself in a helmet and mask. He explained his circumstance as "on the barricade with a rifle throughout the day and hacking with the Squad/Anonymous during the night".
Team 303 has built a site enabling members of the general public to send text messages to random Russian contact number, telling them the truth about the war. They claim to have facilitated more than 20 million SMS and WhatsApp messages.
Two Anonymous groups I spoke to cited this as the most impactful thing the cumulative has actually done so far for Ukraine.Asked how he validated the Squad's unlawful activity, Jan Zumbach said they did not steal or share any personal info and were only trying to speak with Russians, with the goal of winning the details war.
Nevertheless he also said they were planning a more impactful hack in the coming days.
Vigilante groups in Russia are also performing attacks on Ukraine, but apparently on a smaller scale.There have actually been three significant waves of co-ordinated DDoS attacks against Ukraine since January, plus 3 events of more serious "wiper" attacks that deleted data on a small number of Ukrainian computer systems.
On Wednesday a manipulated video of President Zelensky appeared on the Ukraine 24 television channel website after an evident hack.In the existing environment, though, it's difficult to understand precisely who is behind any provided cyber-attack.
" The Achilles heel of Anonymous is that anyone can declare to be Anonymous, including state stars running against what we're fighting for," says long-standing Anonymous hacker Anon2World.
" With our current increase in popularity, it's (almost) a considered that there will be apparent repercussions from a government entity. When it comes to adding to the mayhem, we're utilized to mayhem, especially online."