The hacking group Anonymous is fighting the Russian government in cyberspace and is taking credit for knocking down the website for RT, the Russian-controlled news network, as the Russian military attacks Ukraine.
The @YourAnonOne account on Twitter said Anonymous was responsible for knocking off RT and shared news on Friday that the Russian Ministry of Defense website was down as well.
The Russian state-owned energy company Gazprom’s website was also inaccessible on Friday and taken offline by Anonymous hackers, according to @LiteMods on Twitter, which is affiliated with Anonymous and has more than 70,000 followers.
Accounts affiliated with the decentralized group of activist hackers shared news of their actions on Twitter and have brainstormed potential targets via the messaging platform Discord.
“The Anonymous collective is officially in cyberwar against the Russian government. #Anonymous #Ukraine,” said @YourAnonOne, an Anonymous-affiliated account on Twitter with more than 700,000 followers, on Thursday.
The cyber action from the activist hackers was not permanent or effective everywhere. RT’s website appeared back online on Friday, and Emsisoft threat analyst Brett Callow noted on Twitter that people with a Russian internet protocol address could access the website while it appeared offline to other users.
The politically motivated hacking disrupting Russian websites on Friday is welcome news for Ukraine. According to Reuters, the Ukrainian government is encouraging the hacker underworld to protect critical infrastructure and conduct spying missions.
Russian cybercriminals are threatening to respond to digital attacks on Russia. The ransomware gang Conti on Friday said it will act in support of Russia, according to a message shared by cybersecurity professionals on Twitter. The gang threatened to retaliate for any cyberattacks on Russia with attacks against critical infrastructure.
Conti has previously victimized Americans. The FBI published an alert last May saying it identified 16 ransomware attacks by Conti targeting U.S. health care and first-responder networks.