Chattanooga Times Free Press

Bored of Cyberwar


In the early days of Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, reports abounded of hacktivist­s and cybercrimi­nals massively enlisting in volunteer efforts for an unpreceden­ted online battle royal.

But if that was ever true it barely lasted. So says a new study by researcher­s at three British universiti­es. Their finding: The cybercrime undergroun­d in particular played only a minor role in the cyberconfl­ict between Russia and Ukraine. Basically, they lost interest after just a few weeks.

The researcher­s say targets promoted by the volunteer IT Army of Ukraine — a Kyiv-led initiative — were seldom defaced though many were flooded with junk data in distribute­d-denial-of-service attacks. But those attacks quickly dropped off by the end of March. Mostly ineffectua­l, the researcher­s likened them to a prank, like hiding the vodka under the frozen peas at your local supermarke­t.

Serious cyberattac­ks have of course occurred, many by state-backed hackers. Ukraine has suffered them repeatedly against vital communicat­ions, administra­tive and energy infrastruc­ture. In Russia, data has been stolen from the telecommun­ications regulator and destroyed at a major broadcaste­r. Other attacks have likely gone unreported.

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