Since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 Feb, the geopolitical conflict between the two neighbouring nations has quickly turned into a full-fledged bloodied war. However, this uncalled military action, into its third day is also simultaneously being fought in cyberspace. Giving the world an early glimpse of hybrid warfare involving cyberattacks to cyberarmy of hackers.
From massive cyberattacks on Ukraine to building a cyberarmy of hackers from all over the world to help Ukraine against mighty Russia. It’s all happening in this modern-day hybrid warfare between Ukraine and Russia.
Amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war, cyberattacks on the Ukrainian government and military sector surged 196% in the first three days of combat as per Check Point Research (CPR) data on cyberattacks.
On the other hand, CPR data found that cyberattacks on Russian organisations increased by 4%. Phishing emails in the East Slavic languages jumped 7-fold, where a third of those malicious phishing emails were directed at Russian recipients sent from Ukrainian emails addresses.
“Cyber activity is surging around the ongoing Russia – Ukraine conflict. We’re seeing cyberattack increases on both sides, with the Ukrainian government and military sector seeing the heaviest increase,” said Lotem Finkelstein, Head of Threat Intelligence – Check Point Software.
“It’s important to understand that the current war also has a cyber dimension to it, where people online are choosing a side, from the dark web to social media,” added Finkelstein.
With every passing day, the Ukraine-Russia war is getting bloodier with rising scores of fatalities and casualties on both sides. Though, this conflict situation between the two nations has turned gruesome for the rest of the world but is also becoming more favourable for hackers to carry out targetted attacks.
In fact, CPR also has warned of fraudulent emails being sent to dupe people who are seeking to donate to Ukraine from abroad, issues example and four safety tips.
196% Increase in Cyberattacks on Ukraine’s Gov/Military Sector
On the Ukrainian government and military sector, CPR documented a 196% increase in cyber attacks in the first three days of combat, compared to the early days of February 2022. The same sector globally and in Russia did not show a similar increase.
4% Increase in Cyberattacks on Russia
In the past few days, CPR documented a 4% increase in cyber attacks per organization within Russia, compared to the same days in the previous week. In Ukraine, the overall amount of cyberattacks per organisation increased by 0.2%. Other regions across the world including APAC (-6%), Europe (-8%), Africa (10%), US (-12%), Latin and North America (-13% and -14% respectively) experienced a net decrease in cyberattacks per organisation.
Phishing Emails in East Slavic Language Increase by 7x
CPR witnessed a significant 7-fold increase in malicious phishing emails in the East Slavic languages (Russia/Ukrainian letters). Additionally, a third of such phishing emails directed at Russian recipients were sent from Ukrainian emails addresses, either real or spoofed.
Beware of Donation Fraud to Ukraine
CPR also witnessed fraudulent emails taking advantage of the situation in order to gain financial profit, luring the recipients to donate money to fake Ukrainian support funds.
Interestingly, Check Point Research (CPR) data depict not just the cyber attack scenario and stats but the Ukraine-Russia conflict is polarizing cyberspace. “Hacktivists, cybercriminals, white hat researchers or even technology companies are picking a clear side, emboldened to act on behalf of their choices,” pointed out Check Point Software’s Finkelstein.
“For people seeking to donate to Ukraine, we’re issuing strong caution of fraudulent emails seeing to capitalize off your willingness to give,” cautioned Finkelstein.
“Always check the email address of the email sender. Watch for any misspellings in emails. And verify if the email sender is authentic. We’ll continue to monitor all sides of the cyber activity around the ongoing war,” advised Finkelstein.
Cyberattacks to Cyberarmy
While CPR will continue to monitor cyber activity globally, a cyberarmy of hackers is being built against Russia. HackenProof – a bug bounty platform for crypto has announced the possibility to use Russian sites to hack the information about the dictator’s regime and his allies.
Under HackenProof’s announcement, hackers from all over the world are coming together to attack the Russian government and help Ukraine. The idea is to attack Russian government-owned cyberinfrastructure and sites including the Russian media, state agencies and institutions.
The plan is to attack Russian cyber systems and damage them and disseminate reports about the damage of cyberinfrastructure of the Russian media, state institutions etc. Hackers from around the world can use this information from HackenProof’s program to help Ukraine win against Russia.
HackenProof posted a message inviting hackers to join the cyber army to stop Russian propaganda and help Ukraine win the cyberwar against Vladimir Putin ruled Russia.
“Dear Hackers, now it’s high time for you to use your technical skills and knowledge for global peace and security.“
“We’ve created Cyberarmy to stop Russian propaganda machines and contribute to disseminating real information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine among Russian citizens. Everyone can join us to help Ukraine win the cyberwar against Russia,” HackenProof posted on its website.
This cyberarmy of hackers will participate in the new exploits research program tasked with revealing vulnerabilities in Russian propaganda and government websites.
From cyberattacks to cyberarmy — a new dimension into the conflict turned hybrid war between Ukraine-Russia has stunned security experts and the entire world.