Russian and Ukrainian cyber forces reportedly staring each other down

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Both Ukraine and Russia are hotbeds of cyber-maliciousness as well as software piracy, so it’s no surprise that hackers on either side of the current military standoff between the two countries have also been getting into the fray.

To this point, the attacks launched by hackers in either camp have run the gamut from news website intrusions that have resulted in those sites having messages and propaganda plastered on them, though Ukraine has accused Russian hackers of tampering with mobile communications in the country, with Ukrainian government officials being targeted.

“I confirm that an… attack is under way on mobile phones of members of the Ukrainian parliament for the second day in a row,” Valentyn Nalivaichenko, the Ukrainian security chief, said when speaking to reporters yesterday. “At the entrance to [telecoms firm] Ukrtelecom in Crimea, illegally and in violation of all commercial contracts, was installed equipment that blocks my phone as well as the phones of other deputies, regardless of their political affiliation.” Russian officials have neither confirmed or denied these claims.

So are these factions well equipped to wage a cyber war? “If the Russians are able to get their patriotic hackers to effectively participate in a war for them, it could be very effective,” Paul Rosenzweig said. Rosenzweig is the founder of Red Branch Consulting, which describes itself as a “homeland security and privacy solutions” firm. However, Rosenzweig also told the BBC that Ukrainian hackers are “very active and very effective as well.”

In the end though, Rosenzweig expects that military firepower will still cause more damage than any cyber warfare waged between the two rival nations. Rosenzweig noted that despite the damage potential that hackers wield, “Tanks beat cyber-bullets.”

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