Several Russian ministries and other state entities have been hacked in an apparent protest over Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Late on March 8, the websites of Russia’s Federal Penitentiary Service, Culture Ministry, Ministry of Energy, and the State Statistics Agency carried an image with a small Ukrainian flag in the corner depicting a sole individual stopping a tank juxtaposed with an image with a small Russian flag of a group of protesters running from a police officer with a truncheon.
Between the two images was one word — “Why?”
The day before, Russian television channels were hacked and had their programming interrupted with coverage of the war in Ukraine by independent broadcasters Current Time and Dozhd TV, outlets blocked in Russia by the government.
Twitter accounts historically associated with Anonymous, the amorphous online activist community that first grabbed global attention about a decade ago, claimed it was behind the cyberattack on March 7.
Last week, Anonymous said it hacked several Russian media outlets, including the state TASS news agency, Kommersant, Izvestia, Fontanka, Forbes, and RBK.
Before that, on February 26, the official website of the Kremlin, the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Kremlin.ru, was down following reports of denial-of-service attacks on various other Russian government and state media websites.
Anonymous claimed it was behind that hacking attack as well.
Russian authorities have intensified pressure on media outlets, threatening them for their reporting about the invasion on topics such as the heavy resistance being put up by Ukrainian forces despite Russia’s overwhelming military power.
Russia’s media regulator, Roskomnadzor, has ordered media to only publish information provided by official sources. It has also forbidden media organizations from describing Russia’s unprovoked actions as an “invasion” or a “war,” instead insisting they be called “special military operations.”