Getting Bored of Cyberwar: Exploring the Role of Low-level Cybercrime Actors in the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Anh Vu, Daniel Thomas, Ben Collier, Alice Hutchings, Richard Clayton, Ross Anderson

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

There has been substantial commentary on the role of cyberattacks carried by low-level cybercrime actors in the Russia-Ukraine conflict. We analyse 358k web defacement attacks, 1.7M reflected DDoS attacks, 1764 Hack Forums posts mentioning the two countries, and 441 announcements (with 58k replies) of a volunteer hacking group for two months before and four months after the invasion. We find the conflict briefly but notably caught the attention of low-level cybercrime actors, with significant increases in online discussion and both types of attack targeting Russia and Ukraine. However, there was little evidence of high-profile actions; the role of these players in the ongoing hybrid warfare is minor, and they should be separated from persistent and motivated 'hacktivists' in state-sponsored operations. Their involvement in the conflict appears to have been short-lived and fleeting, with a clear loss of interest in discussing the situation and carrying out both defacement and DDoS attacks against either Russia or Ukraine after a few weeks.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 23 Jan 2024
EventWWW '24: The ACM Web Conference 2024 - Singapore
Duration: 13 May 202417 May 2024
https://www2024.thewebconf.org

Conference

ConferenceWWW '24: The ACM Web Conference 2024
Period13/05/2417/05/24
Internet address

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