Ukrainian Hacktivists Create a Phone Bomb in an Attempt to Persuade Russians to Stop Vladimir Putin from Committing War Crimes
- When the Ukrainian government requested assistance from hackers, the amount of cyber assistance received surged.
- Databases have been leaked, and websites have been taken down or defiled.
- Hackers are now concentrating their efforts on infrastructure.
· Over the last week, hackers have heard the Ukrainian government pleas for help and have used every arsenal in their power to assist, including targeting Russian infrastructure.
The hacktivist crew known as The International Legion Information Technology Battalion 300 (ILIT300) claimed to have a phone bombing software that was created by Ukrainian hacktivists to send out pleas to Russian citizens in the hopes that they will speak out against the conflict in Ukraine.
The Cryptosphere got the opportunity to connect with ILIT300 in an exclusive interview, and they were willing to share some of their inner workings with us via an encrypted chat.
The ILIT300 developed a lightweight unmanned dialer software that can extract millions of Russian phone numbers from Excel spreadsheets.
The ILIT300 are a network of freelance hacktivists, Anon old guard, and other volunteers. Many of them are Ukrainians living in Kyiv on the ground. Because some of the participants were either travelling throughout Ukraine or sheltering in subterranean railway stations, contact was frequently broken during the discussion.
Despite having people who have taken part in previous Anonymous operations, they say that what they are doing does not fall within the Anonymous umbrella.
“We do want to avoid the Anon aesthetic in general and not promise one fucking thing we can’t deliver,” one member said.
A second member said:
“I would say that we would fall under the umbrella of Ukraine, but for those who do not have personal ties to Ukraine – Anonymous is a welcome flag to see. Whatever brings people to action. All who share the goal of a peaceful, sovereign Ukraine are welcome.”
Many of the members have a background in technology, so making a phone bomb was a natural fit for them. A phone bomb is a common spamming tool; if you’ve ever recieved a robocall from a political campaign or a duct cleaning service or MLM, you’ve been phone bombed.
“We have people with professional backgrounds in Telecommunications and have always been fascinated by early phreaking. I realized Russian censorship had chiefly focused on the internet and Television news, and that there is still a small window of time and means to reach the Russian people, by using an older technology.”
One of the things The Cryptosphere was able to bring up with the group was the Ukrainian government’s request for defensive support from hackers. When asked what their ideas were, they gave the following response.
“I.T. is one of Ukraine’s top exports. This, coupled with Russia’s history of using cyberattacks and troll farms, that makes a call to digital arms the natural choice for Ukraine’s defense. This past week, even young children on their smartphones have joined DDOS attacks against targets – such as Russian state news [outlets] and banking.”
Members of ILIT300 made a Twitter account so that others can monitor their progress and support them.
ILIT300 shared a screenshot of Nataliya Vasilyeva, a Telegraph Moscow correspondent, claiming to have received one of the calls. They are dubbing their operation #OpPhoneKiss, which was included in their caption.
“Chilling. I’ve just got a call from an unknown Ukrainian number to my Russian number: It played a recording of Zelensky saying: “Hi, I’m Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. My country has never attacked yours. I’m asking you to take your sons back.”
The original tweet was seen and retweeted by the editor of The Cryptosphere, but later deleted. We did uncover a deleted tweet with a remark below it that repeated part of it — as if they were trolling Vasilyeva.
Several requests for comment and confirmation of the tweet’s authenticity were disregarded by Vasilyeva.
According to ILIT300, this isn’t the only recorded message being sent out. Interviews with captured Russian soldiers are also being used.
When The Cryptosphere inquired about the bot’s call capacity, they were told that it can cycle at least a million calls and provided us the screenshot below.
“So far, we have dialed around 10,000 numbers. Other groups or “cells” to be punny, that help with support and infrastructure have dialed more. We have a few lists, some submitted by Ukrainian people of their Russian relatives and friends – and another 1 million numbers of Russians we know to have spoken to Ukraine in the past. We will keep calling as long as it feels like money well spent.”
When we asked for a proof of concept, they not only showed us a video of the bot in operation, but they also let us peek at the bot’s coding.
The Cryptosphere inquired if the bot would be made public so that others may assist.
They said that they are currently working on adding a feature to the bot that would allow users to donate cryptocurrency and have that money used to cover the cost of the calls automatically. They went on to suggest that the best approach to donate cryptocurrency at the moment is to donate to the Ministry of Digital Transformation. The authenticated wallet can be found here.
A smaller public version of the bot, which can phone up to ten recipients with a prerecorded message, has been released. The bot’s instructions have been watched over 600,000 times as of this writing.
An internet texting bot was also created to help disseminate knowledge of the disaster, and it is already available.
ILIT300 claim to be doing more than merely making phone calls. They are also utilizing social media to the best of their abilities.
“I should be clear; this is not just about making calls. We are spending money on social media ad targeting. There are also efforts on using Telegram. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were kids in video games helping circumvent the censorship and propaganda. If there isn’t, I hope they start.”
According to ComputerWeekly:
“Telegram has become a digital forefront of the conflict, where people are choosing sides online,” said Oded Vanunu, Check Point’s head of products vulnerabilities research. “We’re seeing people from all corners of the world organising themselves and resources to support either Russia or Ukraine.
ILIT300 said their end goal is to wake up people about what is truly happening in Ukraine.
“We want to help wake up those brainwashed in Russia, by the state news apparatus – the so-called propaganda machine. The lies about this criminal war, this genocide, are atrocious. The Russian people are beaten down with lies that need to be lifted with the truth. By bringing them real accounts of what is happening in Ukraine, leading them to accurate news sources – well, we can lead them to the water, but we cannot force them to drink. The hope is that they stop sitting idly, as their fathers and brothers are wounded and killed – as they kill their neighbor’s children and rape their neighbor’s women. We hope that this will help persuade them to regain some form of democratic control to change what is happening.”
Even if you don’t have a cyber background, ILIT300 says there are many ways people can help.
“If you have law enforcement or military experience, join the foreign legion. You can contact your closest Ukrainian consulate for details. You can also donate. Unfortunately, defending yourself against another nation is not cheap and many of us have already drained all we could from our accounts and crypto portfolios towards the cause. You can speak to your Russian friends! Help truth reach their ears, and reason reach their minds. If you have skills in IT – programming or hacking – join the IT Army, messages are often translated to English. If you do media content – animations, video editing, there is a demand for such skills as well. There are also more specific tasks requiring Russian language or code-breaking skills.”
They also strongly advised against attempting to join with your own weapons, as you can get charged and arrested for doing so.