Ukraine has given more consideration to recruiting a volunteer hacking force. In Telegram channels, participants promote their cooperation with the government in pursuit of goals like Sberbank, Russia’s state-owned bank. From Russia, where links between the government and hacking groups have long alarmed Western officials, there are no such public calls to action.
“We are creating an IT army,” Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted on Saturday, directing cybersecurity enthusiasts to a Telegram channel containing instructions for taking down Russian sites offline. “There will be quests for everyone.” By Friday, the Telegram channel had more than 285,000 subscribers.
Inside the main English Telegram page of the Ukrainian IT Army is a 14-page brochure that provides detailed information on how people can participate, including downloadable software to conceal their whereabouts and identity. their character. Every day, new targets are listed, including websites, telecom companies, banks and ATM processors.
Yegor Aushev, co-founder of Ukrainian cybersecurity company Cyber Unit Technologies, said he was flooded with notes after posting on social media calling for programmers to join. His company has offered a $100,000 reward for identifying flaws in the code of Russian cyber targets.
Mr. Aushev said more than 1,000 people have joined his effort, working closely with the government. People are only allowed to join if someone authenticates them. Organized in small groups, they target high-impact targets such as infrastructure and logistics critical to the Russian military.
“It became an independent machine, an internationally distributed digital army,” Aushev said. “The biggest attacks against Russia will happen soon,” he added.
A government spokesman confirmed working with Mr. Aushev.
Finding out who is behind a cyber attack is always difficult. Groups that misrepresent or brag about having a bigger impact than they really are. But this week, there has been a flurry of attacks on Russian targets. The country’s largest stock exchange, a state-controlled bank, and the Russian Foreign Ministry were disrupted for some time after being targeted by Ukrainian volunteer hackers.