As #OpRussia continued with some hackers declaring that they were going to release fewer details about their exploits, the public-facing side of the campaign focused on battling disinformation expanded to reach more Russians with the facts about the invasion of Ukraine.
Anonymous programmers Squad303 created a tool last week that allows non-hackers to make a positive contribution to “the largest and most successful cyber operation in the history of the world.” Within 48 hours of releasing the 1920.in tool, the group reported on Twitter that “the people of the free world sent the Russians 2 million text messages” warning that the people of Russia would suffer as a result of nations’ response to Vladimir Putin’s aggression and that they need to know the truth about his unprovoked war. By Tuesday, that volume had hit 5 million and was rapidly climbing.
And today, at the weeklong mark for the operation, more than 7 million text messages had been sent to randomly selected Russians by everyday digital warriors using the tool.
“Even in our dreams we didn’t dream of such a result! Thank you people of the free world!” Squad303 tweeted, stressing that “#Anonymous is YOU! Don’t stop! #fightforUkraine”.
Squad303 reported intense efforts to hack their servers originating from Russia, China, and Indonesia. But they expanded the effort to counter Russian propaganda by launching the mail.1920.in tool to send emails to random Russian addresses, and today announced an upgrade to send 10 emails at a time.
And the team announced today beta testing on a new tool to send messages about the war on Ukraine to Russians via WhatsApp.
Meanwhile, some state workers in Russia saw antiwar messages pop out of their printers. The hacking group GhostSec reported sending a message to hundreds of printers on Russian government and military networks that stated in part, “This isn’t your war. This is your government’s war. Your brothers and sisters are being lied to… Some of these units fight Putin’s war thinking that they’re going to make history great for the greater good instead of being told that they will in fact partake in a Ukrainian invasion. Brother open your eyes. Slava Ukraini. God bless the Ukrainians and the Russian people.”
On Thursday, the transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets posted a two-part dataset of more than 360,000 files hacked from Roskomnadzor, the state communications watchdog that last week said it blocked Facebook and Twitter as the Putin regime has tried to stifle the free flow of information on social media.
“The source, a part of Anonymous, urgently felt the Russian people should have access to information about their government. They also expressed their opposition to the Russian people being cut off from independent media and the outside world,” wrote
Lorax B. Horne and Emma Best at DDoSecrets. “We are publishing this release in anticipation of Russia potentially being cut off from the global internet on March 11, and hope Russians will have time to download this data, before then.”
Anonymous also posted an “anti-censorship care package” listing ways for Ukrainians to connect to blocked sites and browsers, how to keep an internet provider from tracking a user, how to use the Tor browser, and more.
The collective also posted a list of hashtags — in both Russian and English — trending in Russian propaganda to utilize in spreading the truth about the war on Ukraine, and “let the algorithms of social media do the rest.”
“We need support of every citizen of free world to spread the reality to hostages and slaves of Vladimir Putin,” said the accompanying message. “Since TikTok and other social media are blocked for new content form Russia lets use their propaganda #tags to spread the reality to Citizens of Russia and cover their lies with the truth.”
The hacking collective Anonymous launched the #OpRussia cyber offensive two weeks ago in response to the Ukraine invasion, resulting in hacks and takedowns of Russian government websites along with leaks of seized data. Hackers have used their access to broadcast the truth about Putin’s war to the citizenry and call on Russians to oppose the attack on their neighbor.
A table tweeted by one Anonymous account estimated that as of March 3 about a third of prominent hacker groups were involved in “the largest cyber war ever right now,” with just 12 of the 49 groups siding with Russia, three whose support was unknown, and the rest supporting Ukraine.
More than 2,500 websites linked to the Russian and Belarusian governments along with state-run media, banks, hospitals, airports, and companies were hacked in the first week after the Anonymous collective declared that they launched cyber operations, a prominent Anonymous account reported last week. The antiwar hackers have also gone after pro-Russian hackers, swiping and leaking thousands of internal chats from the Conti ransomware group, as well as military communications and more.