There was a time when only able-bodied men were asked to fight in wars; well, not anymore. Now you can fight Russian aggression no matter what your age or physical condition may be. You could be 100 years old and blind and still play a part because this war is not the same as the boots-on-the-ground wars of the past. All you really need is a device connected to the internet and the battle is on.
This is not a post to recruit hackers. This is a post for people who have very little knowledge about internet-based attacks but would still like to do something to help Ukraine. Hackers, or those with better computer skills, can go here to volunteer. Those who want to physically volunteer to help Ukraine, should go here.
The rest of you can match your skill level to the attacks mentioned here. In some cases, your ability to use a mouse is all that’s needed.
Protecting Your Anonymity
You don’t need to take these anonymity precautions to participate, but for those of you who are nervous about exposing yourselves to counterattacks, or worried that you may be doing something illegal, some anonymity may give you a little peace of mind. The truth is that with so many people participating in these attacks, including the U.S. government, there’s almost no chance anyone would select you to take revenge on. You’d have a better chance to win the lottery. However, it’s good security protocol to keep your activities online more hidden and there are two basic ways to do this: use a VPN or use the Tor browser.
Use a VPN
Don’t let the letters or name (Virtual Private Network) frighten you. It’s basically a fake return address. Imagine that you wanted to send a bomb to Vladimir Putin (not recommended). You really wouldn’t want to put your actual return address on the package. You’d hide your real location by putting a fake address on the package so you could not be tracked down. That’s what a VPN does. It hides your real internet location. You can get a VPN for free or pay for more protection. All you have to know is how to download and install a program. VPNs can be used on your computer or your smartphone. Here are some recommended free VPNs.
Use the Tor Browser
You must be able to use a browser because you’re reading this. Tor is just a browser. It’s based on the Firefox browser so if you already use the Firefox browser, you’ll instantly feel at home. Tor works like any other browser except it can access deep web sites that end in the .onion extension. It also routes you through other sites before you get to your target. Think of it as money laundering. You don’t want to buy that new Ferrari with marked bank notes that can trace you to a bank robbery, so you move the money around until you get a bunch of clean money. Tor moves your starting address, your location, around through a number of sites on the internet until it finally arrives at the site that you want. In other words, the person getting your request to visit their site thinks it’s from the last site your request went through. It has no idea that it originated with you. You, therefore, have achieved anonymity. Download Tor here.
With or without a VPN or Tor, you’re ready to begin to engage in battle. The easiest attack to take part in is called a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack. Imagine that you work in a fast food restaurant. If customers come in at a normal rate, you can get their orders up rather quickly. But what if a hundred customers show up at the same time? Well, a lot of people may have to wait a long time and some will just give up and go somewhere else. This is what a DDoS does to a website. The server that runs the site gets so many requests that it just can’t handle them. When you try to get to a site that is experiencing such an attack, you’ll get a message that looks like this.
This site that can’t be reached is a site that Russia is using to get around sanctions, but if the site can’t be accessed, it can’t be used. Another battle won by normal people simply gathering together to overwhelm a site with requests. There are long lists of sites that need to be kept offline to undermine the Russian government and military, but you may not want to simply keep entering URL addresses in the address bar and sending them requests. No problem. Here’s a site that does this for you. You can ‘Ping Putin’ by simply keeping a tab for this site open. Just go here and watch your stats play their part in the battle. I’m attacking while I write this.
Here are the sites that are pinged. And lest you think this is a useless enterprise, all of them were inoperable as of this writing, and all you did was click a link and keep a tab open.
Telling Normal Russian Citizens the Truth
A report released by the Russia-based Levada Center, found that 62% of Russians still get their news from state run media. Most of these people are over the age of 55. Needless to say, they are getting a warped view of the truth…ok, they’re being lied to. But how would they know? Russians who relied on social media to give them the news can do so no longer since most social media companies have been banned by the Russian government. But that may have made little difference since the same report found that only around 20% of the populace trusted what they read on online media while around 50% trusted the TV news.
Here is a breakdown of social media use in Russia that I edited for readability.
The two most popular sites are Russian social media sites. All the other sites shown on this graph are either blocked by the Russian government or have voluntarily restricted Russian membership. In other words, it’s very difficult for the average Russian citizen to really know what’s happening in Ukraine.
So now what? Well, this is where you come in.
If you go to this site you will be given the option of sending an email or SMS message to an ordinary Russian or a director of a Russian company. It will not come from your personal email address unless this is what you want. The email you send (in Russian) contains information like this.
“Hello Russian stranger. Your TV channels and your president say that Russia is conducting a liberation operation in Ukraine, led by a bunch of Nazis. I – a simple person decided to write to you that this is not so. Russia launched a full-scale war against a peaceful state… look for the ‘Look for your own’ channel in the telegram. Watch the video, listen to what the soldiers have to say, and send the link to this channel to military families. Let them look for their son/husband/brother.”
Notice the reference to Telegram, which has about 40 million Russian users. It’s not clear why the Russian government allows the app to operate but a real war is going on here. The problem here is trying to separate the information from the disinformation.
But back to the war and participating in spreading the truth. Here is a site which gives you a little more range in what you send to Russian citizens. It must be effective as it has been adopted by people associated with the Anonymous hacking group. The introduction to this site reads as follows.
“A nation that is to pay a huge price because of the shameful decision of the dictator Putin to attack an independent Ukraine by armed forces. The joint action of all the states of the free world, as a response to Russia’s aggression, will lead to the collapse of the entire country. However, nearly 150 million Russians do not know the truth about the causes or course of the war in Ukraine. It is fed with the lies of the Kremlin propaganda. There is no free media in Russia and the internet is censored. It is possible for each of us to convey a direct message to the inhabitants of this enslaved country.”
You are then given these options.
If you, for example, decide to send an SMS, you’ll be given an interface with a valid Russian phone number. The text message will be in Russian.
“Hello, we don’t know each other. I live abroad. I know that Russia invaded Ukraine and many soldiers and civilians died there. How do you live in Russia? How are you?”
You can choose from a variety of messages and quickly send them to different numbers. The emails are longer and have a number of themes to choose from. Obviously, you really only want to call these people if you speak Russian. All of the email addresses and phone numbers are from valid databases. But do any of these ploys really work? Well, depending on the subject lines, approximately 10% of spam emails are at least looked at. I would estimate that 10% is a low estimate for these emails and it could be much higher depending on how interested the person you contact is in the war. In other words, if you send enough text messages or emails, eventually, someone will read them. This does not mean they will change their views, however. That percentage will be much lower. It may make them curious, though, and they may check out some of those videos mentioned on Telegram, where the video from Arnold Schwarzenegger is now being featured. Yes, you could be the person who strikes a strategic blow; a blow that would help to undermine the Putin war. For that reason alone, it may be worth the effort. Besides, you would have earned the right to tell your friends that you have joined the Ukraine Cyber Army. For those wishing to up their game, my next post will unveil more complicated actions that you can participate in. Welcome to the fight.
Remember. Protect your network from any counterattack with the best available endpoint protection.