Ukraine Arrests Hacker for Assisting Russian Missile Strikes

Security

Ukrainian security services have arrested a hacker for allegedly targeting government websites and providing intelligence to Russia to carry out missile strikes on the city of Kharkiv.

Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) revealed that its cyber unit has identified the individual, who it accused of following instructions from Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB.

Hacker Spied on Ukrainian Military Sites

The hacker allegedly spied on and supplied information to Russia on the location of military infrastructure in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second biggest city.

This included potential sites of Ukrainian air defense and artillery positions. The detainee sent screenshots of electronic maps with coordinates of such targets to the FSB via a messenger app, said the SSU.

“To collect intelligence on the Defense Forces, the man walked in the area and covertly recorded possible locations of Ukrainian defenders,” the SSU post stated.

Russia used this information to carry out two missile attacks on the city’s civilian infrastructure, including a local hospital, the unit added.

Additionally, the SSU said the hacker was following FSB instructions to prepare a series of DDoS attacks on Ukrainian government websites.

Russia Recruiting Ukrainian Spies

The suspect is an IT specialist and resident of Kharkiv. According to the investigation, he was recruited by the FSB through a specialized Telegram channel.

The SSU said it seized three mobile phones, a laptop and flash drives, which were used to conduct sabotage operations against Ukraine.

The individual has now been served with “a notice of suspicion” under legislation relating the unauthorized dissemination of information on supply, movement of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine.

The suspect is in custody, and could face up to 12 years in prison, the SSU stated.

On January 3, 2024, the SSU reported that Russian intelligence hacked online surveillance cameras to spy on air defense activities and critical infrastructure in Kyiv ahead of missile strikes.

The service warned Ukrainian citizens that the publication of videos of the operation of defense forces is a criminal offence punishable by up to 12 years imprisonment.

US Sentences Russian Cybercriminal

In the US, a Russian hacker was recently sentenced to five years and four months in prison for their role in developing and deploying the Trickbot malware.

Russian national, Vladimir Dunaev, 40, pleaded guilty to the charges in December 2023.

Trickbot was modular malware designed to steal credentials, install backdoors and much more, playing a major role in providing initial access for ransomware groups such as Ryuk and Conti.

It was used in attacks on hospitals, schools and businesses throughout the US, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in losses.

Commenting on the sentence, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice (DoJ) Nicole M. Argentieri, said: “This sentencing demonstrates the department’s ability to place cybercriminals behind bars, no matter where they are located.

“In cooperation with our partners around the world, we will continue to bring cybercriminals to justice.”

In September 2023, the US and the UK jointly sanctioned 11 Russian’s accused of being linked with Trickbot malware. 

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