Russia Spies on Kyiv Defenses via Hacked Cameras Before Missile Strikes


Russian intelligence hacked online surveillance cameras to spy on air defense activities and critical infrastructure in Kyiv ahead of recent missile strikes, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) has revealed.

The Kremlin was able to remotely control two residential cameras, which it used to collect information to target critical infrastructure in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv. This likely includes the large-scale missile attack that took place on Tuesday January 2, 2024, in which Russia fired around 100 drones and missiles against Kyiv and Kharkiv.

One of the webcams was located on a balcony of a residential building, which locals used to monitor the surrounding area. After Russian hackers gained remote access to control the camera, Kremlin intelligence tampered with the settings to change the viewing angle and connect the stream to YouTube. This enabled them to record all visual information within the camera’s range.

The second online camera was located at a separate residential building in Kyiv, which was used by residents to monitor the adjacent car park. The SSU said that Russia remotely controlled this webcam to covertly record the view of the surrounding area, including critical infrastructure facilities.

The SSU said it dismantled the cameras once it had identified these locations.

“The aggressor used these cameras to collect data to prepare and adjust strikes on Kyiv,” the SSU stated.

Ukrainian Citizens Warned

The SSU has urged Ukrainian citizens who own surveillance cameras to stop online broadcasts from their devices, and to report any detected streams on platforms like YouTube to authorities. It warned that the publication of videos of the operation of defense forces is a criminal office punishable by up to 12 years imprisonment.

The service added that it has blocked around 10,000 online cameras that could be used to gather intelligence on Ukraine’s defense operations since the start of the full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022.

It is now working to neutralize other attempts by Russia to access online surveillance camera feeds.

The hacking of surveillance cameras to inform physical attacks is another example of how Russia is coordinating cyber with kinetic warfare to maximize the damage it causes.

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