• Team OneFist is a group of volunteer hackers defending Ukraine from Russia
  • Team OneFist founder Voltage reveals group's activities, motivations
  • Group used retirement savings of founder's mother when it ran out of cash
  • The group was founded in April

Sun Tzu, the author of the "The Art of War" believed that "the supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting." But that is not an option in Ukraine, and fighters of all hues from around the world have converged to defend the country despite the rain of Russian missiles and bombs.

One of them is Voltage, the pseudonymous founder of the international hacker-volunteer group Team OneFist. The name would ring a bell to those in the Kremlin, as the group has launched devastating cyber attacks on infrastructure supplying Russia's war effort since its founding in April.

International Business Times was recently offered the rare opportunity to understand the inner workings of the secretive group, and how it went about its mission of hobbling Russia's economy and war effort.

But first, there is an interesting story behind how the group got its name. When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy was asked how his country could stand up against a superpower and win, he replied: "Because the people of Ukraine stood up and came together as one fist to resist the aggressors," and he held up his fist as he said that.

Zelensky Commends Diplomats Returning To Kyiv: Shows Ukraine's 'Strength'
Zelensky Commends Diplomats Returning To Kyiv: Shows Ukraine's 'Strength'

"That moment struck me so profoundly, it became the name of our team," Voltage revealed, noting that Zelensky had christened his hacker group at that moment. Voltage said Team OneFist works with the IT Army of Ukraine, a volunteer cyberwarfare organisation that works in collaboration with the government of Ukraine and reports directly to a classified Ukrainian government agency.

Team OneFist does not receive any formal training or funding from the Ukrainian government, Voltage said. He added that his group is "not listed in the chain of command anywhere and that Team OneFist does not "get a formal patch or get to be part of (Ukraine's) Territorial Defense Forces."

Voltage said he spends on the training and the tools the team needs as well as for the group's Discord. His typical day is about juggling a full-time day job, taking care of two disabled people and running Team OneFist. Voltage is adamant he will not accept donations because he believes it would just lead to problems and corruption.

When his savings ran out and he had no one to turn to for financing the group's activities, his 81-year-old mother stepped in. The retirement savings of the old lady has helped Team OneFist keep up its attacks against Vladimir Putin's Russia — another reminder of the sacrifices that freedom-loving people across the world are making to help Ukraine defeat the invaders.

But financial problems are the least of Voltage's concerns; he faces more formidable obstacles. He carries a handgun everywhere, even at home, as he says Putin's agents are out to get him. "They want me dead, they have tried half a dozen times, and I don't even know if they have found me or not," he said.

Voltage's real identity is not being revealed here to protect him and his family from such threats. "To be blunt, the things we have lived through and done could fill an HBO miniseries for 10 seasons already. The spy sh*t we have gone through is like not seen in any Bond movie, and we have done things and seen things I never imagined doing," the Team OneFist founder revealed.

IBT asked why he decided to finally come out of the shadows and agreed to the interview. Voltage offered three reasons for the decision.

One, he was inspired by the movie "Stuxnet," which showed how being in the shadows prevents any discussion or dialogue about the group.

Second, he wants the Team OneFist story to be told — to let Ukrainians know that those fighting for their country are winning battles, contrary to Russian propaganda.

"If for whatever reason we don't make it to the end of the war, I want our story to be told. Some members have come and gone, others have stayed; and new ones from Ukraine replaced them. So the membership of OneFist is changing regularly, and I don't want anyone's efforts for Ukraine to become lost to history," he said.

"To show we are hitting back matters to the morale for all Ukrainians," Voltage added.

Voltage said Team OneFist's "primary goal has been to starve the Russian war machine of supplies by targeting Russian war-impacting logistics," with work "restricted to inside the borders of Russia, intentionally avoiding critical civilian infrastructure."

What will happen to the team when the war ends?

"We have discussed from the start that when the war ends, when there is no longer a need for Team OneFist, then the team will retire from active offensive cyber combat and will begin training the Ukrainians even more to build up the future cyber-army of Ukraine," he shared via Twitter direct messaging.

Voltage ended his interview with messages for both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainians.

"To Putler [Putin + Hitler]: You already know that you cannot win this war, either on the ground or in cyber. No amount of troops or shelling or nuclear threats will damper our enthusiasm or determination to win back our homeland and our people.

"To All Ukrainians: Even though the Orcs are still killing our men, raping our women and enslaving millions of us deep inside Russia, the truth is that Ukraine and her allies are winning the cyber war by a landslide ... we will not stop until we achieve total victory!"