Hacktivists Take Over Russian Internet Surveillance • Pivot


Fights · technology

A cyber attack against a branch of the Russian organization Roskomnadzor has been claimed by Belarusian cyber partisans. These hacktivists claim to have infiltrated and downloaded data from the federal body responsible for Russian media surveillance, Internet surveillance and personal data protection.

Cyberpartisans claim to have penetrated the internal network of the Main Center of Radio Frequencies, a branch of Roskomnadzor responsible for telecommunications surveillance. According to the group’s press release, Cyberpartisans have downloaded a large amount of documents and paralyzed workstations.

To substantiate these claims, the group released screenshots of workstations and internal documents.

Cyberpartisans would possess approximately 1.5 terabytes of data (equivalent to 250,000 photos or 500 hours of HD video), the group’s spokeswoman, Yuliana Shemetovets, said in an interview with Pivot. These documents contain emails, employee data, surveillance reports for journalists, bloggers and Internet users, as well as documentation for various projects, such as automated Internet monitoring systems.

It is not yet known whether people living outside Russia are among those under surveillance.

The hackers also gained access to the KOV communications system, an internal messaging service between Roskomnadzor, the FSB (Russian secret service), the prosecutor general’s office and several other government departments.

Screenshot of a Russian workstation released by Cyberpartisans
Screenshot of KOV internal communication system

The main radio frequency center admits to having suffered a hacking attempt, but notes that “criminals were unable to gain access to either confidential data or critical infrastructure.” The center denies that any workstation was damaged.

Two weeks without supervision?

Cyberpartisans decided to go public after they discovered they were being discovered. The server they had hacked into was abandoned and someone was trying to block access to it, Yuliana Shemetovets explains.

Authorities are said to be rebuilding the compromised server. This could mean that the Russian state’s internet surveillance capabilities have been compromised. “According to our estimates, it will take two or three weeks. So, these are two weeks when the Russian population can write whatever they want on social networks”, jokes the spokesman.

The linked fates of Belarus and Ukraine

This is the first time the hacktivist group has claimed an attack on a target outside Belarus. Until now, the group of opponents of the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenko had attacked various targets associated with the national government.

Why attack Russia? “We want to help Ukraine as much as possible,” explains Yuliana Shemetovets. “Our priority is the liberation of Belarus, but our fates are tied. »

Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya is currently visiting Canada. On Tuesday, the Canadian government announced a series of sanctions against 22 individuals and 16 Belarusian companies accused of helping the Russian state wage its war against Ukraine.

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