Following the launch of Russia’s “special military operation” against Ukraine, which turned out to be an all-out war, NATO, the EU, and other countries decided to take a different approach and impose sanctions against Russia’s leaders and its economy instead of getting directly involved in the conflict.
But it wasn’t just governments that went in that direction, as many companies did the same by halting services to Russian-based customers.
They received some perhaps unexpected support in the face of the popular hacker group – Anonymous.
Bitcoin for a Tank?
Founded in 2003, Anonymous describes itself as a “decentralized international activist-and hacktivist collective and movement” mostly known for its cyberattacks against several governments, institutions, and agencies.
Shortly after the war began, the group breached over 300 Russian targets and collected about RUB 1 billion.
Anonymous’ subsequent act was a bit more compelling and unorthodox. Reports emerged claiming that the group offered Russian soldiers $52,000 worth of bitcoin for every tank they surrendered.
Should anyone want to switch their battle machines for BTC, they would need to wave a white flag and use the password “million.”
“Russian soldiers, everyone who wants to live with their families, children, and not die, the Anonymous global community has collected RUB 1,225,041 in bitcoin to help you.” – read the group’s message.
The TV Network Breach
Speaking to BBC, unnamed Anonymous members outlined some of the most significant achievements in their personal war against Russia’s military operation and the person behind it – President Vladimir Putin.
One such case stands out, which transpired on February 26. Anonymous breached a local TV network, cut off regular programming, and inserted images of bombs exploding in Ukraine combined with soldiers talking about the horrors they are witnessing.
This was particularly powerful since Russia is known for spreading misinformation about the ongoing war and its reasons for starting it. Many reports indicate that a large portion of Russian citizens has no idea what and why is happening in Ukraine.
“We will intensify the attacks on Kremlin if nothing is done to restore the peace in Ukraine,” said some members of the hacker group.
Ukrainian Hackers Joining
The BBC report outlined another story in which a Ukrainian hacker – using the pseudonym Roman – partnered with Anonymous to launch attacks on Russian entities, including the state-operated news agency – Tass. In it, they placed an anti-Putin poster and included the Anonymous logo.
“I am ready to go and pick up a rifle for Ukraine, but at the moment, my skills are better used at the computer. So I’m here in my home with my two laptops, co-ordinating this IT resistance.” – commented Roman, who works on creating websites, applications, and Telegram bots to help his country.
Anonymous also saw support from a Polish hacking team called Squad 303 – named after a famous Polish fighter squadron from WW2.
“We work together with Anonymous all the time, and I now consider myself a member of the Anonymous movement,” – said one Squad 303 group member.
They have built a website allowing people to send text messages to random Russian phone numbers to highlight the truth about the invasion. Their combined efforts have led to facilitating more than 20 million SMS and WhatsApp messages so far, the group claimed.