Tech for the Rescue: the Resistance As We Have Never Seen Before
Well, we don’t need to state the obvious: it’s war now. A large, mighty, angry, oppressive, imperial complex-ridden state is pounding its small, not-so-rich, not all that well armed former colony in a bid to bring it “back to the fold” (or, to put it as it actually is, under its heel), showering civilian cities with rockets and adding insult to injury by calling all that “a special denazification operation”. We know that much, and for those who actually watched and tried to analyze these “peacemakers” previous behaviour, these events, scary as they are, cannot be entirely surprising.
What, however, does not look quite as expected for many, is the tenacity and fortitude the smaller country is showing in this battle. Even its supporters, indignant and horrified at this blatant breach of each and every tenet of modern political civilization by a supposedly European country had little doubt that Ukraine had little if anything to hold off the Russian war machine, and were prepared for the latter to sweep through Kiev in the matter of a day or two, if not hours.
And yet, they are still standing there. They are still fighting (and may they succeed). And, in addition to their bravery, strong motivation – it’s their land and freedom that they are defending, after all – their, it turns out, military prowess and some help from other nations and empathetic individuals, it’s also due to some novel methods of the offensive operations involving today’s technologies.
Or, more simply put, hacking. Which they are indeed turning into something conceptually new. The term we are used to associate with some scattered (if occasionally powerful) groups of – mostly unruly – individuals is taking on a completely different meaning in Ukraine as we speak. Now the hackers can be referred to as “an army” not just metaphorically. There is such an army in literal enough sense of the word – that is, a concerted, focused, driven and well-organized force – around these parts. And it is starting to prove its efficiency already, even though it cooperates with volunteers.
Because these days, in today’s wars, it’s not just physical objects – such as infrastructure or residential buildings – that need to be protected, but virtual space and communications as well. (No wonder, considering how greatly everything virtual has come to affect physical aspects of our lives now). And they are being targeted by the aggressor quite intensely too, with all kinds of goals, from disruption of communications to misinformation. There are DDoS onslaughts, there are worms and trojans bombarding Ukrainian networks, the whole nine of cyber warfare being thrown at those who dare to defend what their Eastern neighbour wants to take from them. The analysts quote almost 200% escalation in assaults on the Ukrainian networks of all levels from the Russian side. The phrase “Russian hackers” has become memetic for a reason. They sure know their stuff.
But now they may be about to finally meet their match. The “IT Army” forces, created by Ukrainian government, is closing ranks against the hackers on the would-be conquerors’ side and is planning the counter-offensive strike, with 31 online objects already identified for attack (and quite large and significant some of these objects are too, up to and including mammoth energy companies and omnipresent search engines). There are, according to Ukrainian Vice-PM, cyber experts on all levels being brought aboard for these operations, each tasked with a specific duty, from deflecting threats to removing the sources of attacks. And, as we’ve already mentioned, there are IT-proficient volunteers being called in to reinforce the military effort.
And, once again, it appears to work even at these early stages. Not only do many sites and services in Russia are visibly and tangibly suffering, either getting drastically slower or showing some much different content than they are supposed to, with the condemnations of invasion and demands to stop it appearing in the most unexpected places, but, even more importantly, a lot of misinformation attempts by the propaganda mill of Russia (which wields as much – if not more – power as their actual weaponry) are now being thwarted. There are now even data to be found online about Russian troops losses and the information given re: how the relatives of those taken prisoners can contact them. And yes, Ukrainian telecommunications, Internet and other cyber-dependent services are reported to be working much smoother and being repaired a lot quicker than even a several days ago, even in the current horrible conditions.
All of which is no surprise considering that the aforesaid calls, for the experts and volunteers alike, were answered swiftly and wholeheartedly. And not just from inside the country. The support comes from abroad as well, making Ukrainian IT resistance pretty much a global movement (the renowned Anonymous organization alone is certainly a force to reckon with, and it is now well and truly involved).
And even considering the murky and ambivalent nature of the hacking as such – due to which some concerns and alarms have already been expressed by some high-placed officials about the legal side of it all – we see it as a good thing on the whole. Because all the legalities are already flown out of the window in this particular corner of the world anyway (and the shards may yet maul the whole lot of us, mind). And our ability to stand together against it – and not just in the way of lip service – seems much more important at this point.
Russian Invasion Of Ukraine Shows No Signs Of Slowing Down As Blasts Continue [Video]
Video uploaded by NBC News on March 3, 2022