The Cyber War

On the 24th February 2022 Russia began its assault on Ukraine with a series of missile attacks.

In the weeks leading up to the invasion, Ukraine was at the receiving end of cyber attacks “on a different level” as financial and government websites were taken offline and left completely inaccessible. 

In addition to the missile attacks and the bombings, Ukraine continues to face a cyberwar with Russia as hackers have been relentless with their cyber attacks on the Ukraines Media, Government and Banks by using online platforms to spread misinformation, disupt government websites and bring down the internet.

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are carried out with the intention to bump a website offline by flooding it with malicious traffic until it crashes.

“Another mass DDoS attack on our state [has] begun,” Ukraine’s Digital Transformation Minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, wrote on Telegram.

We are in an era where war is is fought in the digital realm as well as on the ground and as conflict rages on the Ukranian governtment has claimed it is fighting “a hybrid war”

Russia-Ukraine - Tech Giants & The Cyber War

The Cyber War

At the beginning of the conflict Tech Giants responded quickly with Meta banning Russian State media from running any paid ads or monetising content on it’s platform. Nathaniel Gliecher (Head of security policy at Meta) Tweeted – 

“We are now prohibiting Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on our platform anywhere in the world. We also continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media. These changes have already begun rolling out and will continue into the weekend.”

Youtube then blocked Russian Media channels from generating any revenue from content. In a statement, YouTube said:

“In light of extraordinary circumstances in Ukraine … we’re pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetise on YouTube, including several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions.”

Google followed suit by banning downloads of the Russian state owned media outlet RT mobile app. a Google spokesperson said on Sunday.

“In response to a legal request from the Ukrainian government, the RT News app is no longer available for download on Google Play in Ukraine,”

A Swift ban also prevented Russian banks from moving money easily. Swift (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Communications) is a global messaging system which is used by banks worldwide to conduct payment transactions and allows for the rapid transfer of money across borders. The United States, European Union and United Kingdom have together agreed to put these sanctions in place.

Russia-Ukraine - Tech Giants & The Cyber War

The Anonymous hacking collective chosen their side and have claimed credit for a number of cyber attacks that have in turn taken down Russian government websites and state backed news outlets. 

The invasion has left some part of the country without access to the internet and Elon Musk responded to the request of the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov who tweeted  –

“@elonmusk, while you try to colonize Mars — Russia try to occupy Ukraine! While your rockets successfully land from space — Russian rockets attack Ukrainian civil people! We ask you to provide Ukraine with Starlink stations and to address sane Russians to stand,”

Satellite internet devices from Elon Musk’s company Starlink have now arrived in Ukraine. These devices will connect with low-flying satellites to deliver high-speed internet to hard-to-reach, war torn areas.

The Cyber Army

Reports suggest more than 275,000 volunteers from around the world have already answered Mykhailo Fedorov’s call to create an IT army, but the exact figure is impossible to verify currently. The creation of a governement let volunteer army is unprecedented. So what does this mean for the rest of the world? – The internationalisation of the cyber army could be seen as third party parcticipation and may well have consequences that goes beyond the Ukranian borders.

Final Thoughts

As the battle moves into its third week it remains to be see how much longer the conflict will remain between the two nations until it extends across the globe digitally.