Belarus hackers say they’ve targeted railway to impede Russian troop movements

A group of Belarusian hackers on Monday said they have targeted a national railway company in an effort to hinder the movement of Russian troops, as tensions rise between Moscow and Kyiv amid reports of a Russian incursion into Ukraine.

The organization, dubbed Belarusian Cyber Partisans, tweeted on Monday that it encrypted some of Belarusian Railways’s servers, databases and workstations, which “disrupt[ed] its operations.” 

The group noted, however, that the encryption did not have an effect on automation and security systems “to avoid emergency situations.”

Yuliana Shemetovets, a New York-based spokesperson for the hacking group, told The Associated Press that “Mostly commercial [freight] trains are affected.” 

She said it is the hope among the group that their efforts “indirectly affect Russian troops,” as concerns heighten regarding a potential incursion against Ukraine, but noted that “we can’t know for sure” if the attack will affect the Russian troops because “at this point it’s too early to say.”

Belarusian Railways said its online resources were not accessible and ticket purchases were being stopped for unknown “technical reasons,” according to the AP. State authorities refused to comment on the incident, the news wire noted.

Shemetovets, however, said the group did not mean to impact passengers and was working to return that feature. 

The group wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that it is “ready to return Belarusian railroad’s systems to normal mode,” but demanded two conditions: release 50 political prisoners who are most in need of medical assistance, and stop the presence of Russian troops in Belarusian territory.

Belarusian Cyber Partisans said it is a team of between 20 and 30 individuals from the country’s IT community, according to the AP. It became known after August 2020, when Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko was reelected to a sixth term. It is reportedly a belief among the opposition and those in the West that the race was rigged. 

Lukashenko maintains a strong relationship with Russia, which has amassed more than 100,000 troops near the Ukrainian border and has stoked fear among the U.S. and its allies that an incursion may be imminent. Moscow, however, has denied having any such plans. 

Shemetovets told the AP that the group first hacked into the railway network in December, but decided not to interfere with its signaling and control system at the time despite having access.

Tags activists Belarus Hackers Train

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