Anonymous and Elon Musk Declare Cyberwar on Russia: We Take Stock

Followed by several international organizations, the Anonymous collective declared cyberwar on Russia this weekend.

Ukraine is not alone in the face of Russian attacks. For several days now, the country has been invaded by the troops of Vladimir Putin, who still refuses to recognize the sovereignty of kyiv, more than 30 years after its declaration of independence in 1991. After carrying out vast military and cybermilitary operations on all the territory, Russia must now face heavy international sanctions, mostly stemming from private initiatives.

Anonymous declares cyberwar

The first political actor to take action, the collective Anonymous has publicly declared cyberwar on Russia. Announced on Twitter, the news was not without consequences: a few hours later, several Russian state TV channels were hacked, broadcasting Ukrainian videos and music instead of the usual programs. For its part, the Kremlin denied the involvement of Anonymous in these attacks.

Internet, the key to Ukrainian liberation?

At the same time, Anonymous has also committed to “keep the Ukrainian people online as best we can”. Since the start of the Russian invasion, the country has indeed had to deal with a greatly reduced connection, linked to the consequences of the bombings or to maneuvers by the Kremlin to complicate enemy communications. To the point of pushing Elon Musk to deploy its own Starlink internet network over Ukraineconfirmed the billionaire this weekend, while indicating that “other terminals were on the way”.

On social networks too, the response is mobilizing. Preceded by Meta and Twitter, the YouTube platform announced that it would prevent channels affiliated with the Russian government (and in particular the Russia Today media) from generating advertising revenue on their videos. Citing “extraordinary circumstances”the social network also indicated to Reuters that he also intended to reduce their appearance in user feeds. A way of limit the spread of Russian messages, while preventing the Kremlin from monetizing its content on social media.

Banking sanctions fall

To put pressure on Russia, other sanctions, this time more official, have also been imposed by the West. In a letter signed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and a few other countries, several Ukrainian allies have validated new banking restriction measures designed to isolate the Russian central bank. The freezing of the assets of certain expatriate oligarchs should also be effective shortly. For the past few days, and despite Germany’s initial opposition, Russia has also been excluded from the SWIFT payment system, usually used by banks for international transfers. An additional blow for the Russian market, already targeted by numerous financial sanctions.

As a direct consequence of its expulsion from the SWIFT system, Russia can no longer access dematerialized payments from Google Pay and Apple Pay. Both services are now inaccessible to Russian bank cards, reports an official statement from the Russian central bank. Concretely, it is now impossible for the customers concerned to pay online, abroad, or via their mobile phone. Note, however, that in Russia, Google and Apple services are not as popular as here: in 2020, only 29% of the population used the GAFAM payment system, generally preferring local alternative solutions.

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