Revenge for Leopards: Russian hackers attacked Germany

Thanks to the efforts of German cyber specialists, it was possible to minimize the consequences of Russian hacker attacks carried out after the Federal Republic of Germany’s decision to transfer tanks to Ukraine.

Photo: Killnet Official / Telegram

On January 26, German officials said that Russian hackers attacked the websites of several German government agencies.

Hackers from the Russian Killnet group usually attack the websites of countries that make political decisions disadvantageous to Russia. This time the victims of the attack were websites of German governmental institutions. It is reported by ZDF.

BBC reports that Killnet`s Telegram channel was keeping up a timeline of the attack on Germany`s main web resources. They post screenshots of the alleged Interior Ministry website and the chaos on the scoreboard of a railway station. Nevertheless, the site of the German Interior Ministry is working.

The hackers announced that they had attacked the internal network of a Berlin hospital. “The main Berlin Multipurpose Hospital is offline. Why and how? It’s simple – doctors can’t access their working accounts online,” they wrote in a telegram.

Hackers also said that they disabled the Bundestag website, but the site remained accessible.

Russian cyberattack did no significant damage

The deputy speaker of the federal government, Christine Hoffmann, said at her briefing that the effects of the attack had been minimized.

According to her, on Wednesday and Thursday, DDoS attacks were observed on many computers and servers “It was mostly possible to repel these attacks, so large-scale and serious damage did not occur,” – said a spokeswoman for the government press service.

She added that the Federal Information Security Agency warned vulnerable institutions and gave advice on how to deal with such attacks.

First of all, cyber attacks affected the websites of airports, financial sector institutions, federal and state authorities, in particular, the Interior Ministry of Baden-Württemberg.

Revenge for the tanks?

On January 25, the German government announced that it would transfer Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. In the first stage, Germany will provide a company of 14 Leopard 2 A6 tanks from the Bundeswehr. Other European partners will also deliver Leopard 2 tanks.

On the same day, January 25, the Killnet hacker community announced the launch of a cyber attack on Germany.

Who are the Killnet?

Killnet is a pro-Russian hacker group known for its DoS (denial of service) and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks toward government institutions and private companies in several countries during the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. The group is thought to have been formed sometime around March 2022.

Throughout 2022, countries such as Romania, Moldova, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Latvia, Japan, and Georgia were attacked.

On August 1, 2022, the group and its founder called “Killmilk” claimed responsibility for a cyber-attack on the American defense corporation Lockheed Martin, as a retaliation for the HIMARS systems supplied by the U.S. to Ukraine. The group said that Lockheed Martin “is the actual sponsor of world terrorism” and that it “is responsible for thousands and thousands of human deaths.

Shortly before the attack, the group announced it will carry out a new type of cyber-attack, different from the DoS and DDoS cyber-attacks carried out before. Killmilk said the attack targeted Lockheed Martin’s production systems as well as information about the company’s employees for them to be “persecuted and destroyed around the world!”

Hackers are not just attacking governments and corporations. In May a song contest fell victim to an attack. 

Killnet hackers are suspected of having made an attempt to block the Eurovision Song Contest website during Ukraine’s performance at the 2022 contest with a DDoS attack, which was blocked by the Italian state police, however, the group denied on their Telegram channel that their attack had failed.

They subsequently attacked the state police site emphasizing how they blocked the attack on Eurovision and not the same. Following the attack, they threatened to attack 10 European countries, including Italy.

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