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KillNet: Pro-Russian Threat Actors Claims Responsiblity for 14 DDoS Attacks on U.S. Airports

 

On Monday, a pro-Russian hackers group ‘KillNet reportedly claimed to be behind the DDoS attacks, that temporarily took down the websites of several U.S. airports.
 
A similar case was witnessed by Atlanta International Airport. Consequently, users were unable to access the websites for a few hours during the campaign. Though, the attacks did not have any impact on flight operations.
 
The Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) authority informed about a threat on their website to the Transportation Security Administration and the FBI.
 
"The service interruption was limited to portions of the public facing FlyLAX.com website only. No internal airport systems were compromised and there were no operational disruptions," a spokesperson stated in an emailed statement. Adding to the statement, she said the airport’s IT Team has restored all services and is investigating the cause.
 
Later, the hacker group apparently posted the list of the hacked airport websites on Telegram that included 14 targeted domains, urging hackers to participate in the DDoS attack.
 
The Airport websites impacted by the group include Los Angeles International, Chicago O’Hare, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD), the Orlando International Airport (MCO), the Denver International Airport (DIA), the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), and the sites of airports in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Hawaii.
 
In a Telegram post on Monday, Killnet listed other U.S. sites that could be the next potential victims of similar DDoS attacks, such as sea terminals and logistics facilities, weather monitoring centers, health care systems, subway systems, and exchanges and online trading systems.
 
Apparently, this DDoS attack was not the first attack by KillNet as KillNet has previously targeted many other countries that were against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. These NATO countries include Italy, Romania, Estonia, Lithuania, and Norway.
 
KillNet's DDoS attacks and those urging other threat actors to carry out are an example of what security experts determine is the tendency in recent years of geopolitical tensions, to be permeated the cyber world. As per the speculations, this campaign against the US and other NATO countries, for instance, instigates days after an explosion demolished a section of a major bridge connecting Russia to the Crimean Peninsula.

Killnet Targets Japanese Government Websites

According to investigation sources on Wednesday, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department intends to look into the recent website outages of the Japanese government and other websites that may have been brought on by cyberattacks by a Russian hacker organization.  

As per Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, the government is apparently investigating if issues with the aforementioned sites were brought on by a denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. 

As per experts, access to the government's e-Gov portal website, which provides a wealth of administrative information, temporarily proved challenging on Tuesday.  

The pro-Russian hacker collective Killnet claimed responsibility for the attack and alleged it had attacked the electronic system of the tax authority and Japan's online public services in a post on the messaging app Telegram. Furthermore, it appeared that the hacker collective wrote that it was an uprising over Japan's 'militarism' and that it kicked the samurai. 
 
However, as per Sergey Shykevich, manager of Check Point Software's threat intelligence group, Killnet was likely responsible for these attacks.  

Killnet's justification for these strikes, according to Shykevich, "is owing to Japan's support of Ukraine in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, as well as a decades-long dispute over the Kuril Islands, which both sides claim control over."

As per the sources, the MPD will look into the cases by gathering specific data from the affected businesses and government bodies. The National Police Agency will assess whether the hack on the e-Gov website qualified as a disruption that materially impairs the operation of the government's primary information system as defined by the police statute, which was updated in April.

The cybersecurity expert added that firms in nations under attack by Killnet should be aware of the risks because the group employs a variety of tactics, such as data theft and disruptive attacks, to achieve its objectives. 

Following a recent large-scale attack by Killnet on websites in Italy, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, and Norway, there have been allegations of attacks targeting Japanese government websites.





Russian-Linked Hackers Target Estonia

 

In response to the government's removal of a monument honoring Soviet World War II veterans, a pro-Kremlin hacker group launched its greatest wave of cyberattacks in more than ten years, which Estonia successfully repelled.

Luukas Ilves, Estonia's under-secretary for digital transformation at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications, stated that "yesterday saw the most significant cyberattacks against Estonia since 2007".

According to reports, the former Soviet state removed a Red Army monument from Tallinn Square this week, and the eastern city of Narva also got rid of a Soviet-era tank. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the authorities vowed to remove hundreds of these monuments by the end of the year.

On Wednesday, the Russian hacker gang Killnet claimed responsibility for the attacks and stated a wave of DDoS attacks have allegedly been launched against the 200 websites of public and private sector organizations in response, including an online citizen identity system. 

A replica Soviet Tu-34 tank from World War II was taken off the public display on Tuesday in the town of Narva, close to Estonia's border with Russia, and brought to the Estonian War Museum in Viimsi, according to Killnet, which claimed responsibility for a similar attack against Lithuania in June.

It's worth noting as based on sources, that the DDoS attacks timed with a Russian media fake news campaign alleging that the Estonian government was destroying Soviet war graves. The country's ethnic Russians reportedly rioted as a result of this.

Estonia's Cybersecurity 

According to the National Cyber Security Index, the nation has a 17 percentage point advantage over the average for Europe and is placed third in the ITU Global Cybersecurity Index 2020. 

After experiencing significant DDoS attacks on both public and private websites in 2007, Estonia, a country that is a member of the European Union and NATO, took steps to strengthen its cybersecurity. It attributed these attacks to Russian actors who were enraged over the removal of another Soviet-era monument at the time.

The nation's e-government services, along with other industries including banking and the media, were significantly disrupted throughout the weeks-long campaign. The dismantling of a monument honoring the Soviet Red Army also sparked the attacks.

The Tallinn memorial served as a grim reminder of Estonia's 50 years of Soviet captivity to the government and many Estonians, while other ethnic Russians saw its removal as an attempt to obliterate their past. 

The incident did, however, motivate the government to step up its cybersecurity efforts, and as a result, it is today thought to have one of the best defensive positions of any international government.











Italy Alerts Organizations of Incoming DDoS Attacks

 

On Monday, Italy's Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) issued an urgent warning about the significant threat of cyberattacks against national entities. The Italian organisation is referring to a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) cyberattack, which may not be catastrophic but can nonetheless cause financial and other harm due to service failures and interruptions. 

“There continue to be signs and threats of possible imminent attacks against, in particular, national public entities, private entities providing a public utility service or private entities whose image is identified with the country of Italy,” describes the public alert. 

The indicators are Telegram postings from the Killnet organisation inciting massive and unprecedented assaults on Italy. Killnet is a pro-Russian hacktivist group that launched an attack on Italy two weeks ago, employing an ancient but still powerful DDoS technique known as 'Slow HTTP.' As a result, CSIRT's advised defensive actions this time are related to this sort of assault but also contain numerous generic pieces of advice. 

Last Tuesday, Killnet announced "Operation Panopticon," appealing for 3,000 "cyber fighters" to join in 72 hours. Last week, the group restated the call to action multiple times. The necessary sign-up form requests information on the volunteers' system, origin, age, and Telegram account, as well as the tools needed to launch resource-depletion attacks. 

While DDoS appears to be the primary purpose, it is possible that Killnet intends to utilise DDoS to force defences to cope with service outages rather than active cyberattacks. Killnet presented an etymology definition of the word Panopticon, implying data leaks and warning that 90% of the country's officials will 'go crazy.' 

Killnet's recent targeting of entities in numerous countries, Italy among them, for backing Ukraine's resistance against Russia has resulted in the group's targeting of Italian groups. This prompted Anonymous Italy to take action, launching attacks on Killnet and doxing some of its members via social media. As a result, Killnet retaliated. 

The CSIRT Italy website was intermittently inaccessible at the time of writing, but no long-term connection difficulties were observed. There have also been reports of Poste Italiane, Italy's national postal service provider, going down for many hours this morning. 

However, the agency told la Repubblica that the disruption was caused by a software upgrade that did not proceed as planned, rather than by Killnet assaults. Other local media sources that regularly monitor the availability of Italian sites claim that the web portals of the State Police and the Italian Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense are also unavailable. At the time of writing, the sites of the two ministries appear to have been damaged by a DDoS assault, according to BleepingComputer.

Ukrainian Government Websites Shut Down due to Cyberattack

 

Ukrainian state authorities' websites have stopped working. At the moment, the website of the Ukrainian president, as well as resources on the gov.ua domain are inaccessible. 
According to the source, a large-scale cyberattack by the Russian hacker group RaHDit was the reason. A total of 755 websites of the Ukrainian authorities at the gov.ua domain were taken offline as a result of the attack. 

Hackers posted on government websites an appeal written on behalf of Russian soldiers to soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and residents of Ukraine. "The events of the last days will be the subject of long discussions of our contemporaries and descendants, but the truth is always the same! It is absolutely obvious that what happened is a clear example of what happens when irresponsible, greedy, and indifferent to the needs of their people come to power," they wrote. 

Another of the hacked websites published an appeal on behalf of Zelensky. In it, the President of Ukraine allegedly stated that he had agreed to sign a peace treaty with Russia. "This is not treason to Ukraine, to the Ukrainian spirit, it is exclusively for the benefit of the Ukrainian people," the banner said. 

The third message called on civilians to "refuse to support national radical formations formed under the guise of territorial defense." It was warned that any attempts to create armed gangs would be severely suppressed. In another announcement, Ukrainian soldiers were asked not to open fire on the Russian army and lay down their weapons: "Return fire will kill you. You are guaranteed life, polite treatment, and a bus home after the war." 

This information could not be confirmed. Currently, when entering government websites, it is reported that access to them cannot be obtained.

Earlier it became known that Russian hackers from the Killnet group hacked the website of the Anonymous group, which had previously declared a cyberwar against Russia. They urged Russians not to panic and not to trust fakes. 

On February 25, hackers from Anonymous announced their decision to declare a cyberwar against Russia due to the start of a special operation in the Donbas. The attackers attacked Russian Internet service providers and government websites. They also hacked the websites of major media outlets: TASS, Kommersant, Izvestia, Forbes, Mela, Fontanka. 

As a reminder, the special operation in Ukraine began in the morning of February 24. This was announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Hacker Group Killnet Took Down the Anonymous Website

 

The Russian hacker group Killnet said that they took down the Anonymous website "anonymoushackers[.]net" and called on Russians not to believe the Internet fakes and to stay calm. Killnet's appeal was published on one of its Telegram channels on Tuesday, March 1. 

According to the hacker group, "the Internet is full of fake information about hacking Russian banks, attacks on the servers of Russian media and much more. All this has no danger to people. This "information bomb" carries only text. And no more harm. Don't give in to fake information on the Internet. Do not doubt your country". 

Hackers blamed the events in Ukraine on the country's President, Vladimir Zelensky, as well as American leader Joe Biden. The leaders of the EU countries, as they say in the appeal, are following the lead of the United States. 

 According to independent verification done by CySecurity News, there is no official website for Anonymous Group. 

Russian hackers said that they had already disabled the website of the Anonymous group, along with the website of the Right Sector banned in the Russian Federation. The Anonymous hacker group declared a cyberwar on Russia and claimed responsibility for a hacker attack, for example, on the RT website. 

On February 28, the websites of Izvestia, TASS, Kommersant, Forbes, Fontanka, Mela, E1, Buro 24/7, RBC, Znak.Com and other Russian media were hacked. On the same day, massive DDoS attacks were launched against websites of the Crimean government and authorities. Hackers used a botnet with IP addresses mostly located in North and South America, Taiwan, and a number of other countries. 

On February 26, the Ministry of Information reported that users of the public services portal may face difficulties when working with the services of the site due to cyberattacks. At the same time, the department clarified that the personal data and information of citizens are reliably protected. On the same day, the administration of the President of the Russian Federation reported regular cyberattacks on the Kremlin's website. Moreover, Russian Railways reported that the company's website is subject to regular serious DDoS attacks. 

Earlier, Information security expert Nenakhov told what danger Anonymous hackers pose to Russia. According to him, DDoS attacks are the easiest thing that can happen. Government websites, government online services such as Gosuslugi, email, social media accounts of politicians, websites, and the IT infrastructure of state banks and defense companies are relatively more vulnerable to attacks.