Anonymous claims they hacked into Russia’s state TV and the country's equivalent of Netflix in a push to highlight the realities of the conflict in Ukraine.
Anonymous is a decentralized online community of hackers and activists that launch protests, cyberattacks, and online pranks together. There is no leader or central organization of the group – in effect, anyone can become part of Anonymous – but they are typically identified through the iconic Guy Fawkes masks from the graphic novel and film V for Vendetta. In the past, they’ve launched action against a wide array of government agencies, companies, militaries, public figures, and websites.
On Sunday, March 6, a Twitter account associated with the collective tweeted that the Russian streaming services Wink and Ivi – plus live TV channels Russia 24, Channel One, Moscow 24 – had been hacked to broadcast footage of the war in Ukraine.
The attack appears to be an attempt to override Russia’s attempts to stifle information from the Ukrainian invasion reaching their populace.
This deepening conflict is becoming as much as information war as it is a conventional war. Russia has recently blocked Facebook and Twitter in retaliation to the social networks restricting access to Russian state-affiliated media, such as RT and Sputnik News.
In retaliation, Russia has blocked numerous European and North American news websites, including the BBC, Voice of America, and Deutsche Welle. Meanwhile, the BBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, Bloomberg News, CNN, and CBS News all suspended reporting from within Russia to protect their journalists from a new law threatening jail for "fake news" spreaders.
The hacker group recently declared a “cyberwar” against the Russian government following their invasion of Ukraine.
“Anonymous activists have been engaged in a cyber warfare campaign against Putin & his allies,” a Twitter account associated with Anonymous tweeted on March 1.
“We, as activists, will not sit idle as Russian forces kill and murder innocent people trying to defend their homeland,” they added.
As part of this offensive, Anonymous has claimed that activists are broadcasting the "trollface" meme on Russian military radio. The hacking group has also claimed credit for changing the maritime tracking data of Putin's yacht to read "FCKPTN", an abbreviation of "fuck" and "Putin".
It isn’t just Anonymous becoming foot soldiers in the cyberwar aspect of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Some electric vehicle charging stations in Russia – which, by no coincidence, feature parts made by a Ukrainian company – have reportedly stopped working and now display a scrolling message saying: “GLORY TO UKRAINE / GLORY TO THE HEROES / PUTIN IS A DICKHEAD / DEATH TO THE ENEMY.”