Hacking Group Anonymous Declares ‘Cyber War’ Against Putin, Russian Government
Global hacking group Anonymous has set its sights on a new target: Russian President Vladimir Putin.
On Thursday (Feb. 24), Anonymous declared on their collective Twitter account that they are "officially in cyber war against the Russian government." Their account has over 781,000 followers.
According to the @youranonnews Twitter account, which has over 6.5 million followers, the global collective of hackers is "currently involved in operations against the Russian Federation."
However, they noted that Anonymous is solely targeting Putin and the Russian government — and not the country itself or its citizens, though they anticipate some digital collateral damage.
"We want the Russian people to understand that we know it's hard for them to speak out against their dictator for fear of reprisals," they tweeted.
Approximately 30 minutes later after their announcement, Russian government-funded and Kremlin-back TV channel and media outlet RT were no longer accessible. The outlet has been covering the crisis in Ukraine in a pro-Russian light, even covering celebrations in the newly occupied territories.
Anonymous launched a widespread denial of service (DDoS) attack on the website, flooding the website with traffic to essentially crash it and take it offline.
According to reports, the official Kremlin and State Duma websites were briefly unavailable on Thursday as well, which might have been a result of the cyber attack.
On Friday (Feb. 25), Anonymous took down Russian oil giant Gazprom's website to show support for the people of Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Ukrainian officials are currently seeking help from local hackers.
"The government of Ukraine is asking for volunteers from the country's hacker underground to help protect critical infrastructure and conduct cyber spying missions against Russian troops, according to two people involved in the project," the report states.
Anonymous labels themselves a "decentralized resistance movement," with members called "Anons" donning Guy Fawkes masks. They previously went to cyberwar against both the Ku Klux Klan hate group and Islamic extremists.