In a bizarre move, Anonymous has declared war on Russia and President Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine-Russia conflict.
After the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, a Tweet from an account named Anonymous urged hackers worldwide to attack Russia, CNBC reports.
On Feb. 24, the account tweeted that the loosely connected global group was preparing for action against the country, adding that it would be retweeting their efforts.
In the days that followed, posts from the account claimed responsibility for bringing down the Russian oil giant Gazprom, the government-controlled Russian news agency RT, and a number of Russian and Belarusian government websites, including the Kremlin’s official site.
Russia may be using bombs to drop on innocent people, but Anonymous uses lasers to kill Russian government websites.
A post via an Anonymous-affiliated Twitter account.
Following those posts, it was announced that its group got Russian internet service providers disrupted, Tetraedr ammunition manufacturer’s documents and emails were leaked, and a gas supply provided by Tvingo Telecom shut off.
Last week, Anonymous’ Twitter account holder described the group’s intentions as follows: “Anonymous has ongoing operations to keep .ru government website offline, and to push information to the Russian people so they can be free of Putin’s state censorship machine. We also have ongoing operations to keep the Ukrainian people online as best we can.”
“Russia may be using bombs to drop on innocent people, but Anonymous uses lasers to kill Russian government websites,” read a post on Feb. 26.
There are No Official Accounts
Although the account has a large following, the person or people behind the “Anonymous” Twitter account denied that it was the group’s official account, stating in a post: “We are a decentralized resistance movement. There is no official #Anonymous account.”
Although it appears to be one of the largest Twitter accounts associated with Anonymous, it is one of many that operate under the larger umbrella of Anonymous’ social media accounts.
As anonymity is a core tenet of the collective, it is difficult if not impossible to verify the group’s claims.
It has been confirmed by a website that checks for server outages that many of the sites the group claimed to have taken down are either currently down or have recently been taken down.
RT published an article on Feb. 28 confirming that the site, as well as that of the Kremlin, was shut down by Anonymous last Friday. The article asserted the group also targeted other Russian and Belarusian media outlets on Monday, adding the message “Stop the war” to their main pages.
Coalescence on a Global Scale
As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hackers are raising their ire again, which is yet another example of how global actors are using any and all means available to protest the invasion.
Cyberwar on Both Sides
It has already been reported that Russia is engaged in its own version of cyber warfare with Ukraine. Ukraine’s governmental agencies and financial institutions were hit by destructive “data wiping” software last week, according to Reuters. According to Reuters, Russia denies involvement.
Reuters reported last week that several Ukraine’s government websites were taken down as a result of a denial-of-service attack. Since Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014, Ukraine has been the victim of digital attacks.
Last week, the anonymous Twitter account emphasized that the group is not at war with Russia or its people as a whole.
Nonetheless, there is little information about the identity of those behind Anonymous. On the “Anonymous” Twitter account, it is stated that they are “working class people seeking a better future for humanity … who agree on a few basic principles: freedom of information, freedom of speech, accountability for companies and governments, privacy and anonymity for private citizens.”
The United States and Chinese governments, the Church of Scientology, and the Islamic State group are among entities targeted by Anonymous in the past.
Nevertheless, the group has expressed support for uprisings such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.