In a stunning turn of events on June 8th, 2023, Russia’s banking system came to an abrupt standstill, courtesy of a guerilla-style assault by Cyber Anarchy Squad. At the heart of the chaos was Infotel, the vital backbone of the Russian banking infrastructure, which found itself squarely in the crosshairs of the up-and-coming hacking group.
In the realm of cyberspace, a formidable group of young Ukrainian hackers known as Cyber Anarchy Squad (C.A.S.) has emerged, gaining recognition as Ukraine’s response to Russia’s infamous Killnet. Since their debut in early 2022, this seemingly ragtag collective has made significant waves, capturing attention and sparking intrigue.
Cyber Anarchy Squad
In a bold move, the group established their own online forum in mid-2022, aptly named DUMPS, which serves as a platform for launching attacks against Russian and Belarusian targets. With a distinctive motto emblazoned at the forum’s header, reading, “Information services/leaks or other services on our forum are allowed in relation to only two states, these are the Russian Federation and Belarus. Topics that mention other countries are not allowed. This is the main rule of our forum,” C.A.S. has avoided the shadows, opting to operate openly and boldly, at least for now.
Despite its relatively small size, their forum has become a force to be reckoned with, regularly sharing database dumps and detailing their numerous successful attacks. Serving as a central hub for organizing their forces, the forum has become an indispensable tool for the group’s activities, solidifying their presence in the shadowy realm of cyberwarfare.
Delving into the revelations shared on the group’s Telegram channel, a clear pattern emerges: Cyber Anarchy Squad has embarked on a relentless mission to target Russian sites at every available opportunity. Further, they use this platform for exposing people they deem to be war criminals, providing photos, addresses, phone numbers, and more.
The question that looms large is whether this group represents a collection of uncoordinated volunteers or a more sophisticated force on the cyber stage. Only time will reveal the true nature of this burgeoning entity and the extent of their capabilities.
Breaking Onto The Scene
Before landing a crippling blow to Russia’s banking system, Cyber Anarchy Squad executed a small series of jabs which went relatively unnoticed in the ongoing fight between Russian-Ukrainian hacktivist groups.
In mid and late 2022, C.A.S. took credit for the large but low-impact data leaks from Russian software developer 1C, as well as the Russian jewelry brands “Адамас” and “UVI.RU”. The leaks, while problematic for the users whose data was exposed, posed little threat to Russian society as a whole.
The group’s seemingly insignificant inception could be attributed to the routine warm-up phase of any young hacker collective, which predictably target low-hanging fruit. However, it is also plausible that these early attacks were an attempt to establish a track record of success. Regardless of their strategy, one thing is apparent: the crescendo of attacks has officially put them on the map.
Establishing Their Presence
According to C.A.S., they successfully breached Infotel’s perimeter defenses, leaving no stone unturned. Their merciless attack resulted in a complete wipeout of the ISP’s systems, rendering its services utterly useless for a staggering 33-hour period. Revelling in their triumph, the squad boasted on their Telegram channel, proclaiming, “We have completely destroyed their infrastructure. There is nothing left alive. Let them try to restore it now, but their chances are as slim as finding an easy life in Russia.”
While the initial target of the attack focused on taking down the single ISP, the repercussions are far-reaching.
The gravity of the situation lies in the fact that Infotel operates the Automated System of Electronic Interaction (ASEI) for the Central Bank, a vital platform which facilitates document exchange and data transfer, among other crucial activities essential for the smooth functioning of the entire banking system.
This audacious act marked a significant escalation for the squad, far surpassing their previous exploits, such as the theft of a jewellery company’s database. Their actions painted a grim picture of an irreparably shattered infrastructure, leaving little hope for recovery.
Staying true to their modus operandi, the hacking group not only successfully pilfered the client lists and emails from Infotel’s compromised systems but has taken the brazen step of making them publicly available. Amidst their boasting of the attack on Telegram, the information was posted for all to see.
However, as of the time of writing, it appears that the seemingly insurmountable challenge of restoring Infotel’s servers has been accomplished. The previously dormant systems have emerged from their digital hibernation, signalling a resumption of services after 33 gruelling hours of downtime.
These latest developments cast doubt on the true extent of Cyber Anarchy Squad’s capabilities. It remains to be seen whether their prowess matches the grandiose narrative they projected or if there are underlying factors that have influenced the outcome. As the story unfolds, the true nature of this enigmatic hacking group will be revealed.
In the wake of this attack, a few questions remain.
How will Russia retaliate? The ongoing battle of Russian and Ukrainian hacktivist groups mirrors the back-and-forth blows on the ground, where it seems that every strike is met with an equivalent retaliation, and no clear victor emerges from the chaos. A Russian counterattack is practically inevitable, although its severity is up for debate.
Could the Cyber Anarchy Group be Ukraine’s answer to Killnet? Killnet’s DDoS legacy provides small shoes for C.A.S. to fill, but the potential ramifications for critical infrastructure leave much to be considered.
While the digital attacks during the war pale in comparison to the real-life wreckage, Cyber Anarchy Squad has clearly demonstrated two things: they are here to stay, and they may be more sophisticated than they had initially let on.