How is Anonymous attacking Russia? Rating of the six best ways

Members of the loosely connected collective known as Anonymous are notorious for wearing Guy Fawkes masks in public.

Jakub Pozhitsky | Nurfoto | Getty Images

The ongoing efforts of the underground hacktivists known as Anonymous are “embarrassing” to Russia and its cybersecurity technology.

This was reported by Jeremiah Fowler, co-founder of cybersecurity company Security Discovery, who has been keeping an eye on the hacker collective ever since. Russia has declared a “cyberwar” for invading Ukraine..

“Anonymous has presented Russian state and civilian cyber defense as weak,” he told CNBC. “The group is demystifying Russia’s cyber capabilities and successfully embarrassing Russian companies, government agencies, energy companies and others.”

“The country may have been an iron curtain,” he said, “but given the scale of these attacks by the online hacker army, it’s more like a paper curtain.

The Russian embassies in Singapore and London did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

Anonymous Statement Rating

While missile strikes make headlines these days, Anonymous and related groups aren’t slowing down, said Fowler, who summed up many of the collective’s grievances against Russia in a nutshell. report published on Friday.

CNBC grouped Anonymous’ claims into six categories. which Fowler helped rank in order of efficiency:

1. Hacking databases

Claims:

  • Posting leaked information about the Russian military, the Central Bank of Russia, the Roskosmos space agency, oil and gas companies (Gazregion, Gazprom, Tekhnotek), Savatsky’s management company, VGTRK TV company, NPO VS IT company, law firms and tomorrow
  • Deface and remove hacked files

Anonymous said it had hacked more than 2,500 Russian and Belarusian sites, Fowler said. In some cases, stolen data has been leaked. onlinein such large numbers, he said, that it would take years to review.

“The biggest event will be the total huge number of records that will be taken, encrypted or uploaded to the Internet,” Fowler said.

Shmuel Gihon, a security researcher at threat intelligence firm Cyberint, agrees that the amount of data leaked is “enormous.”

“At this time, we don’t even know what to do with all this information because it’s something we didn’t expect to get in such a short period of time,” he said.

2. Focus on companies that continue to do business in Russia

Claims:

In late March, a Twitter account called @YourAnonTV began posting the logos of companies that allegedly still do business in Russia, with one post offering an ultimatum to get out of Russia within 48 hours, “otherwise you will be our target.”

By targeting these companies, hacktivists raise the financial stakes associated with continuing to operate in Russia.

“By taking their data or causing disruption to their business, [companies] the risk is far greater than the loss of sales and negative publicity,” Fowler said.

3. Website blocking

Claims:

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks work by flooding a website with enough traffic to take it down. The main way to protect against them is the “geolocation blocking” of foreign IP addresses. By hacking the Russian servers, Anonymous allegedly bypassed these security mechanisms, Fowler said.

“Owners of hacked servers are often unaware that their resources are being used to carry out attacks on other servers. [and] websites,” he said.

Contrary to popular belief, DDoS attacks are more than just minor inconveniences, Fowler says.

“During the attack, critical applications became unavailable [and] operations and productivity come to a complete halt,” he said. “The unavailability of services that the government and the general public rely on has financial and operational consequences.”

4. Recruit training

Claims:

  • Teaching people how to launch DDoS attacks and mask their identity
  • Assistance to Ukraine in cybersecurity

According to Fowler, training new hires has allowed Anonymous to expand its presence, brand and capabilities.

People wanted to participate but didn’t know how, he said. According to him, Anonymous filled this gap by training low-level actors to perform basic tasks.

This allowed skilled hackers to launch more advanced attacks such as NB65, a hacker group associated with Anonymous. who stated this month on Twitter use “Russian ransomware” to take control of the domain, mail servers and workstations of a manufacturing facility owned by the Russian energy company Leningrad Metallichesky Zavod.

LMZ did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment.

“Just like in sports,” Fowler said, “professionals get the World Cup and amateurs get smaller fields, but everyone plays.”

5. Hacking media and streaming services

Claims:

  • Displaying censored images and messages on TV broadcastssuch as Russia-24, Channel One, Moscow 24, Wink and Ivi
  • Increased attacks on public holidays, including hacking of the Russian video platform RuTube and lists of smart TV channels on Victory Day in Russia (May 9) and Rosreestr on Constitution Day of Ukraine (June 28).

As of today’s publication date, the Rosreestr website is not working. Jeremiah Fowler said Russia likely took it offline to protect internal data after the hack. “Russian journalists often used Rosreestr data to track the elite real estate of officials.”

CNBC

The tactic is intended to directly undermine Russia’s censorship of the war, but Fowler said the messages only resonate with “those who want to hear it.”

These Russian citizens may already be using VPNs to bypass Russian censors; others were imprisoned or want to leave Russia.

Among those who leave Russia, there are “super-rich” – some of them go to Dubai. together with professionals working in the field of journalism, technology, law and consulting.

6. Direct appeal to Russians

Claims:

  • Hacking printers and altering grocery store receipts to print anti-war and pro-Ukrainian messages
  • Sending millions of calls, emails and text messages to Russian citizens
  • Sending messages to users of the Russian social network VK

Of all the strategies, “this one stands out as the most creative,” Fowler said, although he said he thought those efforts were fizzling out.

Fowler said his research has so far found no reason to doubt Anonymous’ claims.

How effective is Anonymous?

“The methods that Anonymous used against Russia were not only very destructive and effective, they also rewrote the rules of modern cyber warfare using crowdsourcing,” Fowler said.

The information gathered from the database hack could be indicative of criminal activity, as well as “who is pulling the strings and where the money is going,” he said.

However, most of the information is in Russian, Gihon said. He said that cyber scientists, governments, hacktivists and general enthusiasts are likely to be studying the data, but not as many people as one might think.

Fowler said that while Anonymous has received public support for its efforts against Russia, “hacking or hacktivism has never been fond of law enforcement and the cybersecurity community.”

Bill Hinton | Moment Mobile | Getty Images

Gihon also said that he did not believe in the possibility of criminal prosecution.

“Many of the people they compromised are sponsored by the Russian government,” he said. “I don’t understand how these people are going to be arrested anytime soon.”

However, the leaks overlap, Gihon said.

Fowler echoed this sentiment, stating that systems could “fall like dominoes” once the network was penetrated.

Hackers also often exploit each other’s leaks, a situation Gihon called the “bread and butter” of their work.

“This could be the beginning of mass campaigns that will take place later,” he said.

Fowler and Gihon agreed that the immediate result of the hacks would be that Russia’s defense against cybersecurity was much weaker than previously thought. However, Gihon added that Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities are strong.

“We were expecting to see more power from the Russian government,” Gihon said, “at least when it comes to their strategic assets like banks and TV channels, and especially government structures.”

According to Fowler, Anonymous has lifted the veil on Russian cybersecurity practices, which “both embarrasses and demoralizes the Kremlin.”