‘Pro-Russian’ hacking group hits back at Anonymous
A group of purportedly pro-Russian hackers calling themselves Killnet has taken down a website associated with the Anonymous hacking collective, a site belonging to the far-right Ukrainian militia group Right Sector, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s own website.
Users who attempted to access anonymoushackers.net on Tuesday were unable to do so, receiving a 500 internal server error, and the site appeared to still be down as of Wednesday. Zelensky’s website and that of far-right group Pravy Sektor (Right Sector) were also reportedly rendered inaccessible, though the militia’s site appears to have been restored as of Wednesday.
A video posted to YouTube by Killnet addresses “Russian people,” featuring a hooded, voice-distorted figure declaring, “We welcome you from a nation of a friendly union.” Explaining that the internet is full of fake news, the voice urges the viewer not to be led astray, and to “under no circumstances doubt your country.”
The hackers blame Zelensky for the war in Ukraine, arguing that he “adopted the wrong policies” and is now “paying with the lives of his people for that.” US President Joe Biden was dismissed as a short-termer who “doesn’t want to die, may he rest in peace,” while his EU counterparts were merely “American prostitutes who can do nothing.”
“Soon this conflict will be over and peace will be ours,” the hackers reassured their Russian viewers, snarking that Anonymous had “better restore your website,” which “looks pathetic after the threats you voiced against our nation.”
Little information regarding Killnet is readily available, and it is not clear whether the hacking group existed before Tuesday’s action.
Anonymous had previously conducted a series of distributed denial of service attacks on RT, Sputnik, and other Russian state-funded media, as well as on government and business websites. They also took credit for doxxing members of the Russian military.
A Twitter account claiming to speak for the group, @YourAnonOne, announced on Thursday that the hacker collective had “officially” declared cyber-war on the Russian government, while another account, @YourAnonTV, claimed to have hacked Russian state TV channels to broadcast “the truth about what happens in Ukraine,” presenting a series of disjointed, context-free clips of bombed-out buildings and injured people.
Anonymous began as a relatively apolitical “hacktivist” collective infiltrating and doxxing groups from the Church of Scientology to dark-net child porn rings to US-based private intelligence corporations such as Stratfor and HBGary. It later took on a more political bent, participating in the Arab Spring uprisings, digitally intervening on the side of the US in the wars in Libya and Syria, and joining in anti-government campaigns in Iran.
The formerly anti-establishment hacker collective’s attacks on Russian media have mirrored those of major social media platforms, most of which have banned Russian state outlets from monetizing their content or even appearing in top searches. The EU announced over the weekend that it would ban all RT broadcasts, while Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube have blocked access to both RT and Sputnik in Europe at the EU’s request. Microsoft has de-ranked Russian state outlets on its search engine Bing and ceased displaying their content on MSN.com, while Apple and Google have yanked RT’s app from their stores.