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Ukraine calls for volunteer hackers to defend against Russian cyberattacks

As a full-scale war engulfs Ukraine, the country has called on its underground hacker community to help protect critical infrastructure against Russian cyberattacks and conduct spying missions on the Russian military, Reuters reports.

According to two people involved in the project, there’s a post with a Google doc link circulating in the country asking hackers and cybersecurity experts to submit an application listing their specialities. 

Yegor Aushev, the co-founder of a cybersecurity company in Kyiv, told Reuters that the post was written at the request of a senior Defence Ministry official who contacted him Thursday. His firm, Cyber Unit Technologies has previously worked with the Ukrainian government to defend critical infrastructure in the country. 

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Ukraine’s fighting back

The Defense Ministry’s request to Aushev was confirmed by another person directly involved in the process. While the Defence Ministry hasn’t responded to requests for comment. A defence representative at the Ukrainian embassy in the US has said that they can’t confirm or deny information from Telegram channels at the moment. 

The project plans to divide volunteers into a defensive and offensive team. The defence team, as the name suggests, will be responsible for defending infrastructures such as power plants and water systems. The offensive unit will be helping the Ukraine military conduct digital espionage operations against aggressing Russian forces. 

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Ukraine has been under constant cyberattacks for the last two months. On Wednesday, a novel data-wiping malware was found on Ukrainian networks amidst the second DDoS attack on government and defence agencies in the country. Russia had denied any allegations of the attack. 

There was another DDoS attack on Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence, Armed Forces, and two state-owned banks on February 15. Causing the ministry’s sites to go down and the bank’s websites rendered unusably. A month ago, on January 14 multiple Ukrainian websites were temporarily disabled by hackers telling Ukrainians to expect the worst. 

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