Ukrainian Cyberwarfare Targets Russian Wine Market

While Russian and Ukrainian troops bombard each other with heavy artillery, Kiev's IT specialists are quietly using their computer skills to undermine Russian daily life.

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DDoS attack (Photo: Alexander/AdobeStock)
DDoS attack (Photo: Alexander/AdobeStock)

According to various sources, the Ukrainian government has carried out a successful cyber attack on the Unified State Automated Alcohol Accounting Information System - EGAIS - through which Russian alcohol producers and distributors are required to register all of their shipments.

Le Monde reported that Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov told a press conference at a Paris cyber security convention on Wednesday 10th May about an "assault on the [Russian] excise [taxation] system, which disrupted the sale of alcohol in Russia."

The effort was apparently one of a number of similar initiatives. "More than 80 Russian systems have been damaged," Fedorov said, including Rutube, the Russian equivalent of YouTube, which went off air for two days after admitting having suffered "the most powerful cyber attack in its history." Other victims included the FSB and Kremlin sites. "But" Fedorov continued, "we can only talk about the real results, the real successes... after the war... It would be counterproductive to reveal them now."

The story has been confirmed by the Russian news portal Vedomosti, according to the website Hackread which also quotes Alexander Lipilin, executive director of the leading Russian wine distributor, Fort, as saying that the attacks took place on May 4th and that 70% of the invoices failed to be uploaded to EGAIS on that day. Another distributor, Ladoga, said that 900 of 1,500 documents they had submitted also failed. 

The sophisticated DDoS - distributed-denial-of-service - attacks used by the Ukrainians, infect a network of computers with malware that enables them to be manipulated remotely. Each computer is effectively turned into a zombie (or a 'bot') that obeys outside instructions that can lead to the entire network being overwhelmed, leading to a 'denial of service' to  normal traffic.

Fixing these problems takes time, and it appears that the Ukrainian effort affected Russian alcohol distribution for at least three days, which may have been annoying for some specialists in need of a shot of vodka to help them as they attempted to repair the digital damage to the FSB and Kremlin.

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