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Ukrainian coders splitting their time between day job and cyberwar


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Many Ukrainian programmers split their time fighting cyber wars with Russia and their day job.

On Telegram, more than 311,000 people joined the group “IT Army of Ukraine”, where Russian targets can be shared. According to the members of this group, although not all are Ukrainian, they are a substantial number, as per CNBC.

Dave, a Ukrainian engineer in software, said that the group had helped carry out numerous cyberattacks beyond their normal jobs. According to him, the targets included Russian currency exchanges and banks as well as websites of Russian governments.

He said, “I am helping the IT Army run DDoS attacks.” A distributed denial-of-service attack is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a website by overwhelming it with a flood of internet traffic.

His explanation was that “I’ve rented some servers on Google Cloud Platform and written a bot myself that accepts site links and targets attacks against them whenever they are pasted in.” “I usually launch attacks from 3 to 5 servers. Each server produces approximately 50,000 requests per hour.”

Dave claims that he simply pastes targets into Telegram bots whenever they are shared. This took him around an hour.

If asked to comment on the successes of this campaign so far, he replied that it is hard to know because thousands of individuals are participating simultaneously. He stated, “Combined actions are certainly successful.”

Dave is just one of the approximately 30 Ukrainians that work remotely for an American tech consulting company. Work has been made “fully optional for” its Ukrainian employees by the company.

Oleksii is a lead of the quality assurance department at a Zaporizhzhia-based software company. He told CNBC that his team and colleagues do their best to continue working hard and maintain the economy. However, it has not been an easy task.

“[During] the first days of war, the air raid sirens went off for 24 hours straight and you can’t think of work at those moments — you can only think of your family, children and how to keep them safe and sheltered,” he said.

Oleksii claimed that since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Oleksii has worked a total of just two hours per day. He said that it was difficult to prioritise professional work in times such as these.

Oleksii, in addition to his regular job, is trying to win the cyberwar against Ukraine. As an IT worker, it is my hope to be able to help my country at the digital frontline. This war also takes place digitally,” he stated. On a daily basis I reach out to various European and U.S. sites and request them not to do business with Russia.

Gazprom & Sberbank targets

Anton claimed that another developer took part in DDoS attacks on Russian oil company Gazprom as well other Russian banks Sberbank, and the government. Gazprom, Sberbank, and the Russian government failed to respond immediately to CNBC’s requests for comment.

He told CNBC that there are many people involved in attacks so it takes a short time to get a service up and running.

CNBC reported that Nikita was a CEO and cofounder of a cybersecurity business. He works for clients across the globe, and his staff has continued their work throughout the Russian invasion. They conduct “penetration testing” on IT systems to find vulnerabilities.

CNBC spoke with Nikita that he tried to inform Russians about what was really going on in Ukraine via messaging. amid tight media controls from Moscow. His hacking group and he also published Russian credit card information online. He said that he had published 110,000 Russian credit card details in Telegram channels and that he wanted to cause economic damage on Russia.

Nikita explained that they want the Stone Age to happen and that it is possible to do this by cyberattacking Russian gas stations. He stressed however that he does not hate Russians all and is grateful for the Russians’ help in Ukraine.

Mykhailo Fedorov, Ukraine’s digital minister, urged viewers to subscribe to the channel. He said that Ukraine continues to fight the cyberfront.

Yehor is another technology expert, who also works remotely for an international cybersecurity firm from Ukraine. He also has to balance his regular role with the cyber war.

His company does not want to pressure us in any way, he stated, while adding that some of his staff remain in Kyiv and Kharkiv because the fighting there is intense.

I’m trying my best to have equal time for cyberattack and work. He said that his family was not there so he has more time to work and cyberattack.

Cyber-savvy citizens

CPR data shows that Ukraine is still suffering an almost four-week-old barrage of cyberattacks. Most are directed at its military and government.

Moscow repeatedly denied involvement in cyberwarfare. The 19.02.2019 Russian embassy in Washington said on Twitter that it “has never conducted and does not conduct any ‘malicious’ operations in cyberspace.”

—Additional reporting by Monica Buchanan Pitrelli.