The war between Ukraine and Russia also takes place in cyberspace. On February 24, the hacker collective Anonymous declared “cyber war” on the Kremlin in support of the Ukrainian people. Since then, the collective has claimed responsibility for several attacks targeting, in particular, the sites of Russian institutions and certain media. Latest: hacking into several Russian public television channels to broadcast images of the war in Ukraine. A way to counter Vladimir Putin’s censorship, even though the action only lasted a few minutes.
Pirates of the Net would have struck again in a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Sunday, March 6, 2022, one of the Twitter accounts linked to the Anonymous hacker collective, @YourAnonTV, posted a message claiming that Russian streaming services Wink and Ivi and public TV channels Perviy, Rossiya 24 and Moskva 24 are hacked. Supporting video and photos, the collective indicates that it has interrupted the programming of these services to instead broadcast images of the war in Ukraine, as reported France Inter†
In particular, the video posted by this account, followed by more than 300,000 people, shows footage of the city of Kharkiv, the country’s second largest city, under siege by the Russian army. It ends with a message in Russian inviting the public to oppose the conflict: We are ordinary Russian citizens. We are against war on Ukrainian soil. Russia and the Russians against the war! This war is being waged by Putin’s authoritarian and criminal regime on behalf of ordinary Russian citizens. Russians, resist the genocide in Ukraine!†
Informing the Russian people despite censorship
With this move, the Anonymous hackers want to thwart Vladimir Putin’s media strategy, which has: “put his country under a bell”, as denounced by the NGO Reporters Without Borders on Franceinfo, Friday, March 4. In Russia, the media is only allowed to broadcast images of the “special operation”, as described by the Kremlin. In addition, the Russian government has passed a law that sentences to 15 years in prison for anyone who shares “false information about the Russian army”†
Because of the Kremlin’s stranglehold on media, no Russian media could directly confirm the attack claimed by Anonymous. However, Russian-speaking journalists from the BBC would have assured that it had indeed taken place in a message broadcast on Telegram, as indicated France Inter† A source allegedly provided them with photos attesting to the disruption of the usual programs, but this would have taken only a few minutes. Which certainly means that only a minority of Russians have been able to see images of the conflict broadcast by Anonymous.
Before this attack, the hackers had already claimed similar operations, including hacking into various Russian media and news agencies and closing the site of the Russian space agency. This latest action was described by the collective as: “the largest Anonymous operation ever seen”† The aim of these pirates is to disrupt the functioning of the Russian institutions and the strategy of the government of Vladimir Putin, but above all to inform the Russian population about the reality of the conflict that remains hidden from them.