Cyberspace is feeling the strain of Russia's deadly invasion of Ukraine: several websites linked to the Kremlin and its allies in Belarus have been down for the past few days for all, or at least large parts of the internet.
The outages began defacing Russian websites last week and gathered momentum over the weekend after Ukraine's deputy prime minister called for the formation of an "IT army" to target Russian interests.
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A call to arms
"There will be tasks for everyone," wrote Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov. “We continue to fight on the cyber front. The first task is on the Cyber Specialist channel.”
The task list included 31 Kremlin-affiliated organizations, Russian banks and companies, and Belarus. Targets also include Russian government agencies, government IP addresses, government storage devices and mail servers, and critical infrastructure support. For a while, the popular Russian search engine and e-mail portal Yandex was also unavailable.
Websites for many of the organizations listed — including banks (Gazprombank), corporations (Sberbank), corporations (Russian Copper Company and Lukoil), and government websites (Moscow State Services and the Ministry of Defense) — were not available live at the time this post was published.
Ukraine's Cyber Police, meanwhile, reported on Sunday that IT working on behalf of the country had successfully blocked web surfers from reaching a variety of high-profile Russian websites.
"Cyber specialists are conducting massive cyber attacks on the web resources of Russia and Belarus," the post reads. "The website of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the FSB of the Russian Federation, Sberbank and other important government and critical information systems for the Russian Federation and Belarus are currently unavailable."
The post said that the sites removed included the following, all of which were down at the time this post was published:
On Monday, Internet traffic from outside Russia was completely blocked from accessing the Russian e-government portal's website. As noted by Doug Madory, head of web analytics at network analytics firm Kentik, Russia's largest ISP Rostelecom stopped advertising the BGP routes for the portal to stem a steady barrage of junk traffic that had swamped it.