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Cyber expert: Hackers can increase Russians' awareness of the war in Ukraine

Opinion of cyber security expert after Ukraine has urged hackers around the world to help: The Russian army in Ukraine is a difficult target for hackers. Hacking of systems affecting ordinary Russians daily life may have greater effect.

By Birgitte Svennevig, , 3/2/2022

 Ukraine has urged hackers around the world to join an online army with the goal of defending Ukraine's infrastructure and engage in cyber-attacks on Russia.

Expert in cyber security at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Associate Professor Jacopo Mauro, who is also affiliated with the research network Security And Defense at SDU, has never heard of similar cases before:

- This is a foreign legion of hackers from all countries who go into common service for one country, Ukraine.

Jacopo Mauro stresses that he has no expertise in the legal aspects of hacking Russian targets to help Ukraine. Instead, he has thoughts on what such an online army of hackers can accomplish:

- Single hackers may be lucky to find and hit an unprotected system, but you can achieve more by joining teams and making coordinated efforts - as the voluntary hacker group Anonymous does.

Can’t damage much at the front

Jacopo Mauro does not believe that a hacker army can do much damage to the Russians' physical presence in Ukraine:

- If a tank or a weapon is not connected to the internet, you cannot do much on that front.

In return, hackers can do noticeable damage elsewhere, he believes; namely, at home in the Russian infrastructure.

- This could, for example, be shutting down the servers behind banks, TV stations, media, payment systems and other infrastructure, which the average Russian often uses. Perhaps such a shutdown lasts only a few hours or days, but it contributes to the Russians wanting to question themselves and each other; what happens? Why do systems go down? In this way, hacking can contribute to increased awareness in Russia.

Think twice

Jacopo Mauro urges anyone who may be interested in following Ukraine's call to register as a hacker to think twice:

- Anyone who may wish to contribute must be aware that they are probably committing an illegal act for which they may be punished. Hacking against Russian infrastructure can be regarded as illegal cybercrime or as an act of war, and both are, to my knowledge, punishable in Denmark.

Meet the researcher

Jacopo Mauro is an Associate Professor at the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and also affiliated with the research network Security And Defense at SDU.


Editing was completed: 02.03.2022