A (Strange) Interview With the Russian-Military-Linked Hackers Targeting US Water Utilities

A (Strange) Interview With the Russian Military Linked Hackers Targeting US Water

She later added, considerably confusingly, that “the Sandworm hacker group does have one thing in frequent [with us] … That is the commander-in-chief of our Cyber Military.” It wasn’t clear, nonetheless, whether or not that remark was referring to a shared chief overseeing the 2 teams—or perhaps a sort of imagined ideological chief equivalent to Russian president Vladimir Putin—or whether or not Julia meant that Sandworm itself offers the Cyber Military its orders, in contradiction to her earlier statements. Julia did not reply to WIRED’s requests for clarification on that query or, actually, to any questions following that remark.

A Hacktivist Hype Machine

Russian info warfare and affect operations specialists with whom WIRED shared the complete textual content of the interview famous that, regardless of Cyber Military of Russia’s claims of appearing as an unbiased grassroots group, it intently adheres to each Russian authorities speaking factors as nicely the Russian army’s printed info warfare doctrine. The group’s rhetoric about altering “minds and hearts” past the entrance traces of a battle by assaults focusing on civilian infrastructure mirrors a widely known paper on “info confrontation” by Russian army common Valery Gerasimov, as an example. Different parts of Julia’s feedback—an unprompted polemic towards “non-traditional sexual relations” and an outline of Russia as a conservative cultural “Noah’s Ark of the twenty first century”—echo comparable statements made by Russian leaders and Russian state media.

None of that proves that Cyber Military of Russia has something greater than the skinny ties to the GRU that Mandiant uncovered, says Gavin Wilde, a Russia-focused senior fellow on the Carnegie Endowment for Worldwide Peace. He argues as a substitute that the group’s feedback look like an try to attain factors with a possible authorities sponsor, maybe within the hopes of gaining a extra official relationship. “They’re actually making an attempt to hone their messaging, however not for a Western viewers, essentially, a lot as to attempt to put factors on the board domestically and with potential political or monetary benefactors in Moscow,” he says.

At one level within the interview with WIRED, actually, Julia explicitly voiced that request for extra official authorities assist. “I actually hope that the Individuals’s Cyber Military of Russia can have nice prospects, that our authorities companies won’t simply take note of us, however assist our actions, each financially and thru the formation of full-fledged cyber troops as a part of the Russian Armed Forces,” she wrote.

Exterior of the dialog with WIRED, Cyber Military of Russia posts to its Telegram channel in Russian, not English—an odd transfer for a bunch that claims to be making an attempt to affect Western politics in its favor. Different Russian affect operations created by the GRU itself, such because the Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks fronts created to affect the 2016 presidential election, wrote in English. Even different “hacktivist” teams focusing on civilian important infrastructure, equivalent to Israel-linked Predatory Sparrow, take credit score for his or her assaults within the language of their targets—in Predatory Sparrow’s case, posting to Telegram in Persian in an obvious try to affect Iranians.

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