According to two people involved in the initiative, the Ukrainian government is asking for volunteers from the country’s hacker underground to help safeguard crucial infrastructure and conduct cyber-surveillance missions against the country’s enemies.
When the Russian military attacked cities throughout Ukraine on Thursday morning, calls for volunteers began to circulate on hacker forums, and many residents fled the capital, Kyiv.
“Hello, Ukrainian cybercommunity!” “It’s time to get active in our country’s cyber defense,” the post said, inviting hackers and cybersecurity specialists to apply using Google Docs, detailing their expertise, such as malware creation, and professional references.
According to Yegor Aushev, co-founder of a cybersecurity firm in Kyiv, he created the article at the behest of a senior Defense Ministry official who called him on Thursday. Aushev’s company, Cyber Unit Technologies, is well-known for collaborating with Ukraine’s government on critical infrastructure defense.
Another individual with intimate knowledge of the situation verified that the request came from the Defense Ministry on Thursday morning.
Representatives from the Defense Ministry of Ukraine did not respond to a request for comment. A defense attache at Ukraine’s embassy in Washington said he “cannot confirm or refute information from Telegram channels” and declined to comment more.
According to Aushev, the volunteers would be organized into defensive and offensive cyber groups. The defense force would be used to protect infrastructure including power plants and water networks. 225,000 Ukrainians lost power as a result of a 2015 cyber-attack blamed on Russian state hackers.
Aushev’s offensive volunteer battalion, which he claims he is forming, will assist Ukraine’s military in conducting digital espionage operations against invading Russian soldiers.
“Within our country, we have an army,” Aushev continued. “We’ve got to find out what they’re up to.” A newly found piece of dangerous malware has been identified spreading in Ukraine, according to cybersecurity experts at ESET. Wednesday, affecting hundreds of machines. Suspicion fell on Russia, which has been accused of hacking against Ukraine and other nations on several occasions. According to Reuters, the victims included government institutions and financial institutions.
According to the Washington Post, a Ukrainian security officer stated earlier this month that the government did not have a specific military cyber group. ““This year, it’s our duty to produce them,” he told the Washington Post. When contacted late Thursday night in Ukraine, Aushev stated that he had already received hundreds of applications and would begin vetting to guarantee that none of them were Russian operatives.
Stefan Soesanto, senior cyber defense researcher at the Centre for Security Studies in Zurich, expressed hope that the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense would limit itself to drafting Ukrainian nationals who were physically present in the country rather than risking using foreigners in Ukraine or hackers from outside the country.
The charges have been disputed by Russia.