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27 Jun, 2022 18:47

‘Pro-Russian’ hackers take revenge for Kaliningrad blockade

The hacking group Killnet has knocked out Lithuanian government sites with a major DDoS attack
‘Pro-Russian’ hackers take revenge for Kaliningrad blockade

Self-styled ‘pro-Russian’ hacking group Killnet took down numerous Lithuanian government and corporate websites with a major DDoS attack on Monday, two days after warning Vilnius that failure to unblock the railway and road corridor to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad would result in such an attack.

The hackers bragged that they had attacked over 1,000 Lithuanian websites. Those reportedly offline on Monday or experiencing difficulties included the country’s State Tax Inspectorate, Integrated System of Administrative Services, Central State Archive, the city websites of Vilnius and Kaunas, the Lithuanian website of Swedish telecom Telia, and major accounting service provider B1. Lithuania’s cybersecurity agency claimed to have noted an increase in DDoS attacks starting on Friday targeting government agencies, transportation services, and the financial sector. 

The hackers had posted multiple videos to social media over the weekend warning the Vilnius government it had 48 hours to remove the blockade against Kaliningrad or risk a “pinpoint strike at the heart of the Lithuanian system” affecting “more than 500 companies.” A Monday evening post to the Telegram group ‘We Are Killnet’ vowed to continue the attack on Tuesday. 

The same Telegram group earlier shared a list of Lithuanian target websites, though it was unclear if it was a ‘wishlist’ or if all the sites listed had been hacked at some point. Some were still accessible, while others were glitchy or unavailable altogether. The hacking group reportedly encourages volunteers to join its DDoS attacks, listing the domains and IP addresses of targets in order to maximize damage. 

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda doubled down on the blockade on Sunday, declaring “it is absolutely clear that Lithuania must and will implement EU sanctions” in a Facebook post ruling out the possibility of “corridors” or “appeasement of Russia.” Both Lithuania and the EU have insisted Vilnius is acting according to the demands of the bloc, rather than imposing any national-level decision. 

Moscow has repeatedly ordered the blockade to be lifted, calling it a violation of international law and warning that maintaining the ban on transit of sanctioned goods will “have a serious negative impact on the people of Lithuania.” While Kaliningrad is part of Russia, Lithuania and Poland sit between it and the rest of the country, meaning the only open route left is by sea.

Killnet surfaced in March, introducing itself as a “friend” to Russia and attacking the websites of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, the neo-Nazi militia group Right Sector, and the hacking collective Anonymous, which at the time had just declared “cyber-war” on Moscow.