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Russian radio stations hacked to broadcast fake air raid warnings

People across Russia woke to air raid warnings and even sirens coming from their radios Wednesday (22 February) morning after an apparent cyber attack.

user icon David Hollingworth
Thu, 23 Feb 2023
Russian radio stations hacked to broadcast fake air raid warnings
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The fake broadcasts occurred on a number of stations operated by Gazprom-Media, which is itself a subsidiary of state-owned Russian energy company Gazprom. The incident forced the Ministry of Emergency Situations to issue a statement saying that the warnings were fake and the result of hacking.

“This morning in some regions, listeners on the air of radio stations could hear an alarm signal and a text message asking them to go to the shelter,” the statement, translated into English, read, according to Russian-language news agency RIA Novosti.

“We explain: there was an attack on the infrastructure of a satellite operator, as a result of which an unauthorised tie-in is going on the air. The alarm signals transmitted on the air do not correspond to reality.”

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Local authorities in the areas affected by the broadcast — Voronezh, Kurgan, and Belgorod regions — were also forced to deny the warnings of an incoming missile strike.

“The broadcast of one of the radio stations on the morning of February 22 was allegedly hacked from the Ukrainian side,” officials in Belgorod said in a statement, as reported by Kommersant. “The goal is to sow panic among peaceful Belgorod residents.”

Voronezh officials also pointed the finger at Ukraine.

“This message is a provocation of accomplices of the Kyiv regime and is not true. The situation in the region is under control and without incident,” they said.

The timing is particularly apt, given that the day before a national address by President Vladimir Putin was disrupted, according to Reuters. The cause of the outage was apparently a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, as reported by RIA Novosti.

The hacktivist group IT Army of Ukraine later claimed to be responsible for the disruption in a post on Telegram.

“We launched a DDoS attack on channels showing Putin’s address to the federal assembly: 1TV, VGTRK and SMOTRIM,” the post read, before providing a link for aspiring hackers to join the war effort.

Ukrainian cyber forces appear to be gearing up for a major offensive. A Ukrainian charity organisation with close ties to the country’s armed forces is currently engaging in a fundraising drive to raise money to assist in cyber attacks against Russian units.

“We actually raise money for cyber offensive,” said Andriy Rymaruk, head of charity Come Back Alive’s military department.

“It will burn even in the most rotten heart of the occupying country.”

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth

David Hollingworth has been writing about technology for over 20 years, and has worked for a range of print and online titles in his career. He is enjoying getting to grips with cyber security, especially when it lets him talk about Lego.

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