‘We Can Hurt Them in Ways They Don’t Understand’: Ukraine on Russia Cyber-War

An apparent hack of the railway network in Russia’s ally Belarus hints at the prospect of a massive new wave of cyber warfare over Ukraine, security officials told VICE World News.
— Read on www.vice.com/en/article/n7nd9x/ukraine-russia-invasion-belarus-railway-hack-cyber-war

Vice News is reporting that hackers disrupted a railway system in Belarus trying to interfere with a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.  The hackers claimed to have hacked and encrypted key databases in the state railway computer system.

  • The group (of hackers called Cyer Partisans) said it was part of an effort to disrupt the transport of Russian forces in the country under the guise of military exercises and force the release of detained opposition activists, according to Yuliana Shemetovets, a New York-based Belarusian activist who is not a member of the group but volunteered to act as a spokesperson for the group.
  • Alexander Lukashenko’s regime in Minsk – helped by support from Russian President Vladimir Putin – survived a peaceful uprising following a widely disputed 2020 re-election. After a brutal crackdown on political opposition, including mass arrests, deportations and international air piracy, the Belarusian opposition has been mostly forced into exile. As a result of Putin backing Lukashenko, the activists consider Russian troop movements inside Belarus an obvious target.
  • One NATO official was quoted as saying: “…it’s an important moment and I think plenty of services in opposition to Russia are pleased to see it happen.”
  • Russia has a long history of effective cyber-operations including major hacks across the US, Western Europe and Ukraine, and Russian hackers are considered extremely dangerous adversaries by NATO. On Friday the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre warned British businesses to strengthen their digital security due to a raised threat of Russian-based cyber-attacks.
  • The hackers were careful to prevent accidents and delays in civilian travel.

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