Ukrainian ‘cyber ISIS’ will backfire on West – Russia
An alleged army of 300,000 pro-Ukrainian cyber activists is not unlike terrorist groups in Syria that the US encouraged to fight against the government in Damascus, Russian warned on Wednesday.
In the end, this "cyber ISIS" will rebound on Western nations, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has predicted.
The grim forecast refers to a project announced earlier this month by Ukraine’s Digital Minister Aleksander Bornyakov. Introducing the entity on March 9, the official described it as the “world’s first IT army,” which will include Ukrainians and specialists from other nations.
In a radio interview last week, he was more forthcoming about the goals of the operation. He claimed it already included “almost 300,000 people” and said the objectives were to “disrupt the work of [Russian] digital resources” and “fight propaganda” by delivering Kiev’s messages about hostilities in Ukraine to Russian citizens.
Bornyakov claimed credit for a range of cyberattacks, from simply defacing web pages to fully disrupting Russian servers. He called those operations retaliation for Russia “attacking us constantly for eight years”.
Zakharova compared the ‘IT army’ with Kiev’s creation of ‘legions’ of foreign fighters, with the difference being that hackers don’t have to risk their lives by coming to Ukraine.
However, their attacks are far from harmless, including to Western nations, she said. The Russian diplomat claimed that the activists were responsible for the recent attack on the German subsidiary of the Russian oil company Rosneft. The Anonymous hackers claimed they stole 20TB of data from the firm earlier this month. The company had to take its systems offline because of the attack.
Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) is investigating the incident.
Rosneft pipelines and refineries were not affected, but the attack “created significant risks” for its operations in Germany, Zakharova claimed. That includes the work of the refinery in Schwedt, a major supplier of fuel in eastern Germany, she said. “For some reason, German authorities temporarily forgot about the noble mission of the attackers and had the law enforcement actively look for them,” she remarked.
The case exemplifies how Ukraine’s cyberwarfare may have unforeseen consequences for the very nations that support Kiev’s fight against Russia, she added. “Liberal democracies put their stakes on dark forces, be it the Nazis in Ukraine or radical Islamists in the Middle East, and then get targeted themselves,” she said. It’s unlikely that members of Ukraine’s ‘IT army’ “would disband on their own accord and stop their activities, which are criminal in nature.” “This is how you create a cyber ISIS,” she concluded, referring to the notorious terrorist group, which took over vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014.