Encouraged by their government, IT professionals from Ukraine (and further afield) are intent on disrupting Russian companies and their infrastructure – and it appears this IT army may have caught the Russians unawares.

Ukrainian cyber-security expert Dyma Budorin hasn’t slept much since he relocated his Kyiv-based company a fortnight before the Russian invasion. He saw the writing on the wall and hastily moved with most of his staff to Barcelona, where his wife anxiously checks on her parents in Mariupol. Bleary but resolute, he details plans hatched in a Spanish village to unleash mayhem upon Russian targets.

Aided by an underground band of volunteers – part of an ‘IT army’ galvanised by a direct appeal from the Ukrainian government – his cybersecurity company Hacken has managed to adapt a tool originally designed to stress-test company systems and protect against fraud. Volunteers rewrote code in record time to allow disBalancer to work across all platforms, beyond Windows.

“They did in three days what it would have taken six months to achieve,” says Budorin. “DisBalancer has become a powerful tool for Ukraine and it’s in operation now in Russia.”

It has been adopted with gusto by volunteers to bombard Russian websites with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks – which paralyse a site with an onslaught of spurious requests.

Russia has responded by beefing up its cyber defences, and reports – based on Russian government documents – are circulating that Moscow plans to remove reliance on any international internet services and effectively disconnect Russia from the global internet on Friday (11 March) – although information is already tightly controlled. While such geo-blocking can be circumvented by the more tech-savvy, it will limit the effectiveness of DDoS attacks.

Extract from IET - read more here

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