17 mar 2023 7:06 p.m
Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, hackers have been conducting cyberattacks on Russian organizations, either independently or in small groups. Officially, such actions are illegal. Now the Ukrainian government wants to have found a way out.
Ukraine is working on a bill to legalize a controversial “hacker army,” reported Newsweek on Tuesday. The secretary of Ukraine’s National Cybersecurity Coordination Center, Natalia Tkachuk, confirmed the plan to the news magazine. “The law on the creation and functioning of cyber units within the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense should be adopted as soon as possible,” Tkachuk said. The initiative aims to “form the basis for building state cyber defense capabilities, deploying cyber volunteers and creating a cyber reserve.”
She did not name specific deadlines for the adoption and implementation of the law. Should the draft be approved, Ukraine would join other western nations like Finland and Estonia, which already have a substantial cyber reserve force.
In Kiev there is currently a voluntary hacker brigade called “IT Army of Ukraine”, which is to be brought out of the legal gray area and officially integrated into the country’s armed forces. The IT Army bills itself as a “worldwide IT community” which is “the supreme power in Ukraine capable of holding over 800 targets simultaneously”. The group invites anyone with a phone to join and help launch DDoS attacks on Russian online services.
The group has claimed responsibility for the collapse of various Russian websites in the past, including the downing of media platforms during Vladimir Putin’s State of the Union address last month. Loud Newsweek the IT army has been criticized for targeting civilian facilities, including hospitals, in its attacks. The report said a representative of the group welcomed the decision to legalize its activities, even if it meant disbanding the existing IT army and turning it into an official entity.
At the same time, many Western media are warning of cyber attacks from Russia. Last reported CNN on Wednesday that Russian hackers had targeted European military and transport organizations. Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser also said in the Bundestag this week that attacks by pro-Russian hackers had increased massively.
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