Ukrainian forces are battling Russian troops on the ground but a different war is being waged online — a cyberbattle against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s propaganda.
Groups such as Anonymous, an international hacker collective, are claiming responsibility for major hacks in Russia.
“In the last 24 hours, the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations website has been offline. The Kremlin has been infiltrated again and another 80 gigabytes of emails from a Russian gas provider have been leaked,” said a woman NewsNation spoke to who claims to be a member of Anonymous.
The woman reached out to NewsNation’s Brian Entin through one of the organization’s Twitter accounts.
She said hacking is only a small part of what the group is doing in Russia. Members are also texting Russians directly to make sure they have accurate information about the war.
Although most people respond negatively when contacted directly, the woman said some meaningful conversations have taken place.
“You do get people texting back and entering a dialogue. We are sharing photos from the war. We are letting them know their sons are going to battle. We are letting them know these things,” she said.
The woman said the organization’s efforts continue 24 hours a day and described an efficient network of hackers working in countries across the world.
So how do we know Anonymous is behind the attacks?
“Generally speaking, if someone is taking credit it is not Anonymous. We don’t want credit and we don’t want money,” she said.
The woman said the Russian government misunderstands what Anonymous is capable of.
“The Russian propaganda has claimed several times to have arrested Anonymous. There is clearly that lack of understanding that Anonymous is a hive. You cannot take down the hive. The queen is an idea, it is not a person,” she said.
Hacktivists like the woman NewsNation spoke to face considerable risk. Even though Russia is an adversary, it is illegal to hack them or anyone else. It remains to be seen whether someone with Anonymous could be held responsible for the alleged attacks.