Hacktivists boasting allegiance to the Russian branch of hacker collective Anonymous are claiming responsibility for temporarily shutting down the websites of the Kremlin and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, Wednesday. Several other Russian sites were also hit with cyberattacks but managed to stay online.
The two websites were unavailable for almost an hour. Anonymous had previously threatened to disrupt Russian government information portals to protest the swearing-in of Vladimir Putin for third six-year term as president. Putin's return to the seat of government power caused many Russians to take to the streets in protest, and Anonymous declared its support of them.
Anonymous Russia took credit for the hack on Twitter, writing, kremlin.ru - TANGO DOWN http://host-tracker.com/check_res_ajx/10287246-0/ http://i.imgur.com/ukzm8.png #OpDefiance #Anonymous #d4th #DDoS #WIN.
The tweet followed the common Anonymous script, co-opting the military term operation for reporting a successful attack. The post also linked to screenshots as proof that the website was offline in countries around the world.
RT.com reports that the website of the Russian Federal Security Service, fsb.ru, also had performance difficulties throughout the day. There is no evidence that this was connected to Anonymous' cyberattacks.
The Kremlin press service confirmed the hacks, stating, We received threats from Anonymous several days ago but we can't confirm it's exactly this group that attacked the Kremlin.ru website. At the moment we can't establish who's behind the attack. Unfortunately we live at a time when technology security threats have mounted, but we have the means to resist them.
All the relevant departments are taking the necessary measures to counteract (such) attacks, a spokesman for the Kremlin Internet security division told HuffPo. This is routine work. There is always some external influence. Today we are witnessing a splash of activity. ... They failed to achieve their goal.
The websites gov.ru and government.ru also faced cyberattack, courtesy of Anonymous, but did not go offline, according to RT.com. Several Russian media sites were also hit with denial of service attacks, but did not go offline. No group has claimed responsibility for those attempted hacks.
Vladimir Putin won the presidential election in March and launched his third term as head of state on Monday, following a protest where 50,000 Russian citizens took to the streets of Moscow to denounce what they claim was a rigged election.
Despite having approval from authorities to rally, the protesters were violently dispersed by the police and several opposition leaders were detained.