Ukrainian hackers locate Russian bases by posing as attractive women on social media

Days later, the base was reportedly blown up.
Ameya Paleja
Ukrainian artillery.
Ukrainian artillery.


Ukrainian hackers created fake online profiles of women to honey-trap Russian soldiers into revealing their location, Financial Times has reported.

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has thrown some innovative ways of fighting a war. We know how Ukrainian forces have used commercial drones as well as civilian drone pilots in their fight back against the Russian might. While the West has supported Ukraine with weapons and drones, Ukrainian soldiers have also been adapting to changing needs on the ground- and this includes innovation to add more bite to their firepower.

In what would seem almost a different world altogether, groups of computer professionals in Ukraine have turned into hackers to put to use their skills to fight off the Russian aggression. Once accustomed to swanky offices, these people are now working out of secret locations to keep themselves safe while fighting for their country.

Using the dark web against the enemy

The Financial Times spoke to one such Ukrainian group led by Nikita Knysh. Before the Russian invasion, 30-year-old Knysh worked as a cyber security expert, preventing hackers from succeeding. The onset of the Russian assault in February changed everything, and Knysh wanted to serve the country with his skill set.

He approached an old mentor and one of Ukraine's wealthiest men, Vsevolod Kozhemyako, looking for a Starlink internet connection that Elon Musk was shipping to Ukraine. Knysh had assembled a crew of 30 like-minded people huddled in a cheap hostel in Vinnytsia. Dubbed Hackyourmom, the group took the attack to Russia using their cyber skills and the free internet provided by Starlink.

Knysh told FT that his group was involved in the fake bomb threats on Russian-bound airplanes, which saw dozens of flights delayed or canceled altogether. Their sparkling success, however, was tricking Russian soldiers into revealing their locations.

Honey-trapping Russian soldiers

Knysh claims that his group of hackers posed as attractive women on several social media platforms, including Telegram, and contacted Russian soldiers in Melitopol. The group knew that the Russian soldiers wanted to boast about being warriors and urged them to send their pictures.

The pictures sent by the soldiers were used to identify their location, the remote military base in occupied Melitopol. These details were then passed on to Ukraine's military. It was only a matter of days before the group saw the base blown up by Ukrainian artillery, Knysh told FT.

Ukraine's military refused to comment on the role of hackers in the attack. Still, Knysh claims that the group was also involved in other hacks, such as those involving Russian TV stations or exposing databases of Russian military contractors. The group has now disbanded from the hostel but keeps working remotely.

Last week, we reported how hackers also succeeded in disrupting everyday life in Moscow. This happened as Russia attempted to disconnect communications in Ukraine at the beginning of the conflict using cyber warfare. One thing is for sure, conflict is no longer limited to physical locations and arms. It's digital, too, and has gone up to a whole new level.

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