Ukrainian volunteer ‘computer army’ responds to Russian hackers, minister says – Everett Post


(LVIV, Ukraine) – Ukraine’s largest electricity producer, which operates four nuclear power plants, survived what officials described as the most powerful attack on Ukraine by hackers last week. Russians since the end of February.

According to Ukraine’s nuclear agency, Energoatom, the attack did no harm.

At the same time, Ukrainians are fighting back against Russian digital infrastructure. In Russia, more than 600 online resources, including the federal postal service, pension fund, online banks and video conferencing platforms, were hit by Ukrainian hackers this month, according to a statement from the Ukrainian ministry. of digital transformation.

“Cyberspace is a 21st century frontline, and victories there are as important as on the real battlefields,” Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Transformation, told ABC News.

He is responsible for creating the so-called “computer army” – a gathering of more than 230,000 anonymous volunteers who work together via Telegram, an online messaging platform.

Russia’s assault on Ukraine has extended to the virtual realm as well as real battlefields. And here the enemy is choosing very sensitive targets that could impact the security of Ukraine, Europe and even the world.

But Fedorov said his country’s cybersecurity system was more than effective.

“None of the more than 800 cyberattacks since February 24 has caused real losses to Ukraine’s economy, brought the banking system to a halt, or damaged critical infrastructure,” he said.

Some IT firms in Lviv, one of the industry’s biggest hubs, said they were unwilling to disclose their involvement in the country’s digital defense efforts. Some members of Lviv’s IT community told ABC News it was a personal choice for their staff members to join the fight.

Stepan, a 41-year-old IT Army member, spoke to ABC News but asked not to use his real name for fear of reprisal.

“On the second or third day of a new phase of Russian aggression, I saw the tweet of the Minister of Digital Transformation about the creation of a Telegram channel, and it was very useful for me to understand what ‘you have to do exactly to help my country,” Stepan said.

He said he had no military experience and spent all his time in front of his computer screen. Now, almost daily, Stepan and the rest of the unofficial Ukrainian IT Army receive clear online instructions explaining the main targets and suggesting software to use for the coordinated strike.

As a programmer, he understands that his contribution only makes sense in the context of teamwork: “I don’t do a lot of work, but in general, when we all act together, our contribution is very useful.”

“I just launched a few apps and I’m free for a coffee, going through the process once in a while – maybe some new targets have emerged,” he said, adding that IT Warriors did not stay in front of their computer every moment of the day.

He added: “I am always analyzing and looking for additional information. Why this particular target is important, who are these people who will be affected by our interference.

When asked if he was worried about the impact of his efforts on ordinary Russians, he replied that “this is not the time for that, because I don’t see any change in Russian society at the moment. these months – of course it’s not about rapid changes in their consciousness, so we just have to keep doing what we’re doing.

The mission of the volunteer-based cyber army is now to hold Ukraine’s digital frontline while the regular cyber forces are still gathering, said Fedorov, the minister. The country thwarts Russian cyberattacks on a daily basis, he said.

Russia is weaker after at least 40 cybersecurity firms announced their withdrawal from the Russian market and suspended service for Russian customers, Fedorov said.

“Since many software or hardware solutions simply cannot be replaced by Russian-owned technologies, it takes time to develop their own solutions,” he said.

The Minister also said that he counts on international support for Ukraine, asking the international technology sector to share the latest cyber solutions and offer services and equipment, which can help Ukraine.

“We are showing Russia that technology is a future, and technology will win out over large manpower and obsolete tanks,” he said.

As a member of the IT Army, Stepan said he believed it was weakening the Russian economy and its sponsorship of terror on Ukrainian soil. And he’s not the only member of his family involved in the fight.

“Together with my wife, who is also a volunteer, but in a different way, we are actively waiting for the end of this war,” he said.

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