KillNet is a loosely organized group of Russian hacktivists targeting Western government organizations and assets. Targeted attacks have included media, critical infrastructure, and government institutions. Recently, the media or government supporting Ukraine has also been at the center of KillNet’s bullseye.
KillNet is unlike the Russian government-funded and aligned hacker organizations such as Fancy Bear. Fancy Bear, Sandworm, and other similarly sophisticated threat groups have developed large suites of tools to support their targeted attacks. As most of us recall, Fancy Bear attacked the U.S. Presidential campaign and the U.S. Democratic National Committee. They were also responsible for the NotPetya ransomware.
In sharp contrast, KillNet is a crowd-driven online crowd that uses various essential tools, techniques, and procedures. Their focus is on supporting the political narratives that align with Russia’s interests. Today, most of that narrative is about the Ukraine war. KillNet wants Westerners to back down on their support for Ukraine and their anti-Russian sentiment.
In the past two years, KillNet has supported targeted attacks against the U.S., Italy, Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and others. In particular, as Russia was banned from competing in the Eurovision Song Contest, KillNet launched a DDoS attack. The Italian law enforcement organizations moved to stop the attack, but Italy still faced retaliation against both the Italian Senate and Italian Health Institute websites.
Most recently, KillNet has become even more focused on the war in Ukraine. In June 2022, KillNet targeted Lithuania in response to the blockade of goods flowing between Lithuania and Kaliningrad (in Russia). The attacks overtly linked online malicious activities to a continued blockade of goods.
As best the cybersecurity community knows, KillNet has no official or unofficial liaison with the Russian government. Cybersecurity cognoscenti view KillNet as unlikely to cause complex and lasting damage to critical infrastructure. KillNet remains focused on loud and noisy activities that can bring them to mention across news outlets and social media.
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