“IT Army” 400,000 Hackers Strong
Ukraine has been putting up a conventionally very brave resistance against the Russian invasion. With organized and professional soldiers, a chain of command, state-crafted tactics and strategy, and modern weapons like drones and tanks – they’ve shown more nerve than the Russian state would like anyone to believe. However, there is a parallel war raging underneath – or maybe above – in cyberspace, and it’s being spearheaded by overseas volunteers fighting for either Ukraine or Russia.
On Ukraine’s side, the country estimates that 400,000 hackers from various nations have supported the country’s fight since the war began in February. Several high-profile figures have since pledged their support to the cause, and thousands of skilled and experienced dark web hackers all over the world have joined the cyberwar; making this one of the most incredible feats of mobilization involving deep web hackers that the world has ever seen.
For anyone rooting for a country taking fire from all sides to defend its territorial integrity, this arrangement seems to have no unsavory consequences. Civilians around the world are offering up their time and their skills to help Ukraine in any way they can, without expecting any rewards from the Ukrainian government.
Russia’s War Aim at West
However, there are risks involved in waging an informal war against the Kremlin, as is one of the last few tools left in their playbook. This alternate war might just set the West on a crash course with Russia, in which the consequences may spill out beyond cyberspace and into the real world.
The Kyiv Administration may be responsible for this war, as it recognized and took advantage of the global momentum rushing to the country’s defense. Following the creation of the Telegram chat app group, “IT Army of Ukraine”, offers to aid Ukrainian cyber-efforts showed up immediately, even an anonymous CEO cybersecurity startup offered their services. Since late February, the Telegram group has grown to almost 300,000 members.
They’ve had a great deal of success, from creating sights to battle Russian propaganda, to blocking and even taking down Russian official pages. However, though the efforts of Ukraine’s volunteer army of dark web hackers is admirable, they can easily backfire and prolong the fight, rather than delivering a definitive win.