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Hacker drama abounds as pro-Russian groups turn on each other

An apparent disagreement between a pair of pro-Russian hacking groups has led to the arrest of an 18-year-old Belarusian citizen.

user icon David Hollingworth
Thu, 20 Apr 2023
Hacker drama abounds as pro-Russian groups turn on each other
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Arseni Yeliseyeu, also known as Raty and the head of Anonymous Russia, was arrested by Belarusian police earlier this month. Following the arrest, the current leader of the Killnet group — who goes by the online handle Killmilk — made the decision to “de-anon” his fellow hacker and posted Yeliseyeu’s passport details on his own Telegram channel.

“Arseniy (founder of Anonymous Russia) is a great guy, a patriot — but he was not neat,” Killmilk said in his Telegram post, before claiming that Yeliseyeu is now paying for his lack of “neatness”.

“Such a measure of action is strict, but on the other hand, we have no choice.”

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Killmilk has said he will appoint a new leader of Anonymous Russia and has since deleted the contents of Anonymous Russia’s own Telegram channel. According to researchers at security company Flashpoint, the channel now “only displays a message telling readers that the channel was ‘liquidated’ in order to deny access to ‘the [security] services’.”

Killnet immediately started a new Anonymous Russia Telegram channel, where it has promised to continue its war on “CIA rats”, while also declaring that the group will move to a DDoS-for-hire business model.

Killnet appears to see itself as at the top of the food chain for a number of pro-Russia hacking groups, though its attempts to influence other groups have been mixed at best.

The group itself claims to be primarily motivated by its support of Russia’s war in Ukraine, but many of its operations, and its own Telegram-based marketing posts, focus on the group’s financial gains from its hacking efforts. While the group has clearly targeted organisations that support Ukraine — it took responsibility for a range of hacks against German targets following that country’s declaration that it would send main battle tanks to Ukraine — it has consistently targeted dark web marketplaces.

Most recently, Killnet took responsibility for a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against NATO targets, after which it used stolen NATO credentials to create a number of fake profiles on a gay dating site.

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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