Ukraine’s so-called IT army has executed cyberattacks on around 8,000 Russian resources, successfully targeting the defense industry and countering disinformation campaigns by state-sponsored outlets, according to Ukraine’s deputy minister of digital transformation.
Stressing the importance of strengthening joint efforts to stop fake news, Georgii Dubynskyi said that “Information war, specifically in cyberspace, is a new dimension of this warfare and very, very dangerous.”
Ukraine’s IT army, estimated to number around 215,000, is an anonymous group predominantly made up of volunteers, Dubynskyi said.
He believes the team consists not only of Ukrainian IT experts but also enjoys “support from the global IT community” in what he calls “digital solidarity.”
Operating through the messaging app Telegram, the cyber army targets Russian state-sponsored media outlets “spreading disinformation in brainwashing their own population,” as well as financial drivers of the war.
“If you stop their activity at least for one day, many lives of our citizens and soldiers are saved,” said Dubynskyi, referring to funding from sources such as Russian energy firm Gazprom.
The IT army has also successfully attacked the website of the Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization, to delete large amounts of data, he added.
Dubynskyi has accused Russia of using tools, such as artificial intelligence, to create “sophisticated fake news” to spread disinformation to Africa, the Middle East, South America, India, and China to gain support at the United Nations.
Ukraine has been the target of cyberattacks from Russia since 2014, when Moscow unilaterally annexed the Crimean Peninsula. Kyiv has focused on cyber defense since then, according to Dubynskyi.
But following Russia’s invasion in February, the country launched a cyber offense unit with the help of tech-savvy civilians, he said.