back to article Where are the (serious) Russian cyberattacks?

I'm heartsick over Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But, before it began, I'd been really worried about Russian cyberattacks, which would overrun Ukraine and flood into the West's infrastructure.  I foresaw the Russian GRU Sandworm hacking group launching a cyber attack that would ruin the European Union's power grid or wreck …

  1. Chris Miller

    Colleagues still very active in UK cybersecurity report probes from Russia (and Ukraine) are down. Way down. They're probably both too busy squaring up against each other.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Russian hackers, to be effective, have to operate outside of the Kremlin's walled prison garden, which means they can see what is going on and the worlds reaction to it. Maybe they realize history will view Russian hackers retaliating against the civilized world supporting Ukraine sovereignty the way history views the Nazi's. And the Russian people might view them that way as well when the truth eventually diffuses in.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or

        Or if you cant cash out in USD ransomware and spam is not very profitable

        Majority of russian attributed hacking is extortion based scatter shot opportunism with rebadged white label toolkits, with the govt turning a blind eye as long as not against domestic targets. Not the skillset you need for taking down infrastructure (apart from by fluke and all the bad pr and attention that comes from that) and the troll farms have shown no sign of slowing down output

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Or

          Exactly. From what I've seen, the so-called "Russian hackers" are opportunistic skiddies who delight in graffiti and other defacement, along with ripping off the ignorant, using tools produced elsewhere.

          There are probably several dozen people reading and commenting here on ElReg that are technically more competent than any so-called "hackers" that I've noticed coming out of Russia.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: Or

            Putin is engaging in a war of TERROR. Apparently, he thinks like Stalin.

            So he bombs civilians and maternity hospitals.

            It reminds me a bit of this video clip from 'Stargate SG-1'

            (yeah there ARE some additional implications here)

            1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

              1. LDS Silver badge

                Re: Or

                Where's the evidence? Poor Russians didn't have cameras, smartphones and internet connections to show the world what was happening - more even so controlling the Donbass region thanks to Russian troops and weapons support? And what about Trans-Dniestr?

                Do you include the civil plane destroyed by a Russian missile in the victims count?

                Why Mariupol and Kharkiv are resisting so strongly to keep Russian away?

                The only Nazis look to be in the Kremlin (and nearby churches, looking at Kirill rants) - or better, a strange and horrible mix of Nazi, Stalinist, and Czarist madness.

              2. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Or

                This is crazy talk or Regime brainwash

              3. GBH

                Re: Or

                This is crazy talk or Putin Regime brainwash

          2. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Or

            That's not all true. They also have some incredibly talented people there who have gone into crime because their job market is terrible. Even so, a lot of those criminals were content to make money by breaking the law and inconveniencing people but aren't likely to jump straight into a bout of patriotism. Many of them may be rather unhappy that they earn a living by crime because of the actions of that government. Some of them have worked with Ukrainian conspirators and may take their side. Probably most importantly, joining the Russian government puts you a lot closer to their attention, which is not a safe place to be. If you're intelligent enough to design very good tools for committing crimes, you're intelligent enough to know the risks of working for Russia. Unless they ask you to, it's safer to stay out of it.

            1. Jaybus

              Re: Or

              A terrible job market means that one might have to find another line of work. It is not a reason for choosing to be a criminal. Breaking in and encrypting someone's data and demanding ransom IS stealing from others BY FORCE. They don't kill anyone, but otherwise how different is it from what the Russian government is doing in Ukraine? Russia is run by gangs of thugs, and most of them work for one of those gangs. It is not a stretch to assume that they would also work for Putin. It's all about money, and they don't seem to care where it comes from, which is why they became criminals in the first place.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Or

        If they've been watching the Russian news do they even know there's a war going on?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Or

          They listen to the radio, broadcasts from the West, in their own language.

        2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Or

          When the Anonymous collective (reportedly) hack their news broadcasters and broadcast footage of the Russian military committing atrocities in Ukraine, they do.

          When the Russian government starts passing laws that allow for 25 years imprisonment for anyone who says there is a war going on (using Trump's favourite, "fake news" as the justification), then anyone whose brain is not made of cheese might get an inkling that something is going on.

  2. John Jennings

    The SATCOM network was taken down (mostly in Ukraine and Germany).

    Damage trashed the transceivers - not just a patch or reboot.

    They are used for wind turbines maintaince in germany - 500+ down.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: The SATCOM network was taken down (mostly in Ukraine and Germany) (...)

      Citation needed

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The SATCOM network was taken down (mostly in Ukraine and Germany) (...)


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The SATCOM network was taken down (mostly in Ukraine and Germany) (...)

          That's an ancient article. Almost 2 weeks old.

        2. MiguelC Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: The SATCOM network was taken down (mostly in Ukraine and Germany) (...)

          Thanks for the citation :)

          Der Spiegel (in german) has some more info on the hack - a defective update - but it seems there was no hardware damage as all is up and running again

      2. ACZ

        Re: The SATCOM network was taken down (mostly in Ukraine and Germany) (...)

        Here's a link to the detailed technical write-up:

        Note in this thread reference to a Der Spiegel article on this as well with an alternative explanation.

    2. tip pc Silver badge

      The SATCOM network was taken down (mostly in Ukraine and Germany).

      Damage trashed the transceivers - not just a patch or reboot.

      makes it seem like someone physically damaged that gear.

      but the articles others linked to suggest cyber attacks.

  3. Mishak Silver badge

    "Putin may not be insane"

    Citation required.

    1. An ominous cow herd

      Re: "Putin may not be insane"

      "may" is the escape clause

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: "Putin may not be insane"

        Indeed. He may have just been replaced by an insane double.

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: "Putin may not be insane"

      I think that it is unwise to label someone who is dangerous as insane as we then downplay, to ourselves, how they can act: sometimes very rationally. Thus we might not take it as seriously as we should.

      We need to understand that he has a plan. This plan is long term and has been worked on.

      I suspect that the plan has feet of clay as none of his advisors wants to be the one who tells Putin of invalid assumptions, etc, that the plan is based on.

      Having said that I am fearful that, when his back is to the wall that, he might show little restraint and start chucking nukes around. If he feel that he is on the way out then why worry about anyone else being blown up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Putin may not be insane"

        Some recent evidence shows that in fact he is quite relaxed atm:

        (Link may not be appropriate for work, depending on local conditions, and on how contents might be updated).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Putin may not be insane"

        My money is that with maybe the exception of Putin's lapdog Military Chief Sergei Shoigu who has never been in the armed forces prior to being brought in & made a general by Putin, if Putin gave the order to launch nukes he'd probably find himself at the wrong end of a coupe. And he probably knows it.

        1. captain veg Silver badge

          pointlessly pedantic, but...

          The wrong end of a coupe is the bottom. It means cup. In French. You want coup, which means blow (not the huffing puffing kind).

          Unless, of course, you were talking about American cars with a fastback roof line. Not sure which is the wrong end there.


          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: pointlessly pedantic, but...

            "Unless, of course, you were talking about American cars with a fastback roof line"

            Not exactly. By way of reference, here's a photo of the Beach Boy's "Little Deuce Coupe". The original fastback mustang was called just that ... the Fastback, while the hard-top with a trunk was and is called a coupe. Etc.

            On the other hand, the most beautiful hard-top car in the world is indeed a fastback, and called a coupé, but it's not by any stretch of the imagination American. In fact, most of us Yanks pronounce its name incorrectly ...

            1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

              Re: pointlessly pedantic, but...

              Which in turn comes from the French, coupé, the past participle of couper, to cut or strike.

              je coupe - I cut

              je suis coupé - I am cut

              Misuse of loan words is one of my bugbears, like when people pronounce cache as cachet (or, worse, caché). Nobody is storing data temporarily in the concept of being respected, or in "hidden". While we're at it, can we give a beating to those who misuse Greek and Latin plurals (e.g. phenomenon/phenomena)? If you don't know the word, don't use it to try and look clever.

              Right, I'm off to find my blood pressure medication...

    3. Naselus

      Re: "Putin may not be insane"

      Actually, his behaviour has been entirely rational.

      Ukraine is a vital strategic asset for Russia. It's three minutes flight time from Moscow. Any great power would be entirely willing to go to war to prevent such a location from joining a nuclear-armed, hostile military alliance (and prior to the invasion, Russia's list of demands largely boiled down to 'we want guarantees Ukraine will not join NATO ever, or else we will need to invade it to ensure it doesn't'. They were quite open to discussing the 'swissification' of Ukraine, but we weren't). This is literally an exact parallel of the Cuban Missile Crisis, from the Russian point of view (and the invasion has turned out to be a pretty direct parallel of the Bay of Pigs, too).

      Moscow has been entirely open and clear about this being it's position since at least 2008, when we first started making noises about inviting Georgia and Ukraine to NATO, because Putin is an old Cold Warrior and understands that you need to make your red lines clear to your opponent in a game of nuclear chicken. It is the reasoning behind the invasion of Georgia (which happened just 4 months after the Bucharest conference where NATO declared it's intention to extend into Georgia), the annexation of the Crimea (where Russia's main naval base is located, and which occurred mere days after the Maidan revolution brought a Russophobic government to power), and now the invasion of the rest of Ukraine.

      To present this as inconsistent or insane is, frankly, absurd.

      Ukraine is not a vital strategic asset for NATO, and NATO was equally clear that there was no circumstances in which it would deploy troops against Russia to defend Ukraine. This alone means that really, we should have offered at least some concessions to assuage Russia's (actually pretty reasonable, in pure cold war logic) strategic concerns. If we actually needed Ukraine in NATO, then we'd already have boots on the ground there; the fact we're not willing to do that tells you that there was no sane reason to be discussing Ukraine joining in the first place. Much of the 'negotiations' preceding the war was simply Western nations telling the Russians 'we will do nothing to actually stop you doing this, and we don't even particularly want Ukraine, but we think you should be the one who has to back down'.

      And this genuinely IS insane. Russia is basically following the standard script of Great Power politics as it's existed since the Egyptians and the Hittites were bickering over the Levant four thousand years ago, and the West are ignoring that script in order to try and expand NATO into a country that it doesn't need, which equally was under no threat until it started talking about joining NATO, for no reason other than 'making NATO bigger is automatically an unalloyed good'.

      The result of that is that Ukraine will at very least be bombed back to the stone age (if not subjugated and put under a puppet government), and Russia will end up as a much bigger, much more dangerous North Korea with 4000 nuclear warheads on the edge of Europe. Presenting this as one man going insane in a tiny bunker in Moscow is absolving the West of over a decade of astonishingly incompetent grand strategy and diplomatic policy.

      1. Mishak Silver badge

        "discussing the 'swissification' of Ukraine, but we weren't"

        Surely only the Ukrainians have the right to discuss that with Russia?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Putin may not be insane"

        prepare to be down bombed into oblivion with logic like that.

        But I do agree.

        the west has been playing power play where it really is not necessary.

        Putin has already indicated he wants a neutral Ukraine & has already occupied the bits he wants, he has no interest in the rest of Ukraine so long as its not in NATO & not in the EU.

        He has clearly stated that.

        If everyone backs down and he pushes for more then bomb the f'ing shit out of him, until then just roll things back to how they where in 2016 and see how we stand.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: "Putin may not be insane"

          Putin has already indicated he wants a neutral Ukraine & has already occupied the bits he wants, he has no interest in the rest of Ukraine so long as its not in NATO & not in the EU.

          Except for the fact he published that 5,000 essay at the beginning of the year about how Ukraine didn't really exist, and that Ukrainians were only Russians with funny accents, misled by evil Westerners and Nazis into believing otherwise. Before his videotaped screeds after recognising the Donbas republics and then on the day of invasion - where he said Ukraine didn't really exist and was a historical mistake of Lenin's - and should really be part of Russia.

          From that point, a lot of people are going on the working assumption that these are the only statements that make his invasion look rational. He thinks he can conquer and annex all (or at least most of) Ukraine and will be welcomed by its "basically Russian" people - once he's hanged a few "Nazis", like Zelensky.

          Which looks batshit insane to me. But is the only explanation that makes his war look sane that I can see. Particularly the early operations to capture Kyiv on day one. And also makes it fit in better with his normal MO, which is the quick thrust led by special forces - backed by the threat of overwhelming force - meant to create a more favourable situation on the ground that he can then spend the next few years defending, before launching the next clever "special operation". It's just this one was based on stupid assumptions and has been failing horribly ever since.

          1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

            Re: "Putin may not be insane"

            > Except for the fact he published that 5,000 essay at the beginning of the year about how Ukraine didn't really exist, and that Ukrainians were only Russians with funny accents, misled by evil Westerners and Nazis into believing otherwise. Before his videotaped screeds after recognising the Donbas republics and then on the day of invasion - where he said Ukraine didn't really exist and was a historical mistake of Lenin's - and should really be part of Russia.

            And of course that, a few days after the invasion started, both RIA Nostova and Sputnik accidentally published a declaration of victory including a statement that "Vladimir Putin took upon himself a historic responsibility, by deciding not to leave the resolution of the Ukrainian question to future generations".


            1. martinusher Silver badge

              Re: "Putin may not be insane"

              True, but then the Washington Post published an article last week that talked about the sheer size of this country. Placed on a map of the US it stretches from the mid-west to the Atlantic and from the Great Lakes down to Kentucky. Its a big place so I don't expect the Russian military to be able to drive over the area in a few days, even if it were unopposed.

              Then you zoom out a bit and look at Ukraine relative to the size of Russia itself. Russia is HUGE. it dwarf's Ukraine. Its 11 time zones dwarf even continental countries like the US. Its true that a lot of it is not my idea of a comfortable climate but its no worse than living in Canada. So given that the country is vast in both area and resources with a relatively tiny population you realize that they've already got more than they can use, its not really interested in expansion, its just had a history of people trying to bite bits off it which makes it a bit paranoid and have a tendency to have friendly or neutral buffer states between it and the serial offenders. (Germany, France....aka, "the EU")

              Understanding their perspective isn't the same as agreeing with it. I just think we desperately need our tax dollars (in the US) for our day to day needs but instead (like the UK) we've got nothing for the people but seemingly unlimited resources to expand and maintain our global reach. So call me 'pro-Russian' if you want but you'll be wrong; I'm pro-American but I'm definitely not interested in these continual foreign adventures -- hell, we've just got kicked out of Afghanistan after 20 years, can't we just give it a rest for abit?

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: "Putin may not be insane"


                So given that the country is vast in both area and resources with a relatively tiny population you realize that they've already got more than they can use, its not really interested in expansion, its just had a history of people trying to bite bits off it which makes it a bit paranoid and have a tendency to have friendly or neutral buffer states between it and the serial offenders. (Germany, France....aka, "the EU")

                It's one historical perspective I suppose. But I'm not sure it's a very good one. Russia is no unique victim-state. We don't justify Hitler's actions with all the invasions of Germany over the preceeding centuries. So why is Russia so special?

                For example poor innocent Russia has got nothing in the invasion stakes compared with say Poland. Which has been the victim of aggression repeatedly in the last couple of hundred years - including a lot from Russia. Russia has unprovokedly invaded Poland twice in living memory! In the first case in alliance with the Nazis in 1939 and then in the second case "liberating" it from the Nazis - but as they never planned to leave and imposed a repressive government backed by Russian military force I'd call that an invasion too.

                Putin rages against the expansion of NATO, as if us evil Western types forced Eastern Europe at the point of a gun. But they joined NATO because they don't trust the Russian government. Perhaps with some reason.

                Every country in Europe has been the victim of multiple invasions - and also the perpetrator of multiple invasions. It's called history. But there's been no threat of an invasion of Russia since 1945 - but there have been multiple invasions of other countries by Russia since then. And the Soviet Union, and now Russia have kept an outsized army on other peoples' borders and threatened to invade various other countries too.

      3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: "Putin may not be insane"


        Russia's demands weren't just that Ukraine guarantee it wouldn't join NATO. They also wanted all NATO troops out of all countries that joined NATO after 1990 (I'm not sure if that also meant Polish troops out of Poland - or just all foreign ones), plus Ukraine to give back all weapons that it has received from NATO countries in the last few years and lose all future NATO support in training and equipping its army. Oh and to agree to Russia's interpretation of the Minsk accords - and that means allowing an election in Luhansk and Donbas while there were under Russian political and military control (so a rigged one) and then those newly "elected" officials to be included into the Ukrainian government with some sort of powers of veto so that they could stop Ukraine ever improving as a country and showing up how pisspoorly Putin has been running Russia.

        Now given that Russia has invaded Ukraine 3 times since 2014 - disarming the Ukrainian army and giving up all hopes of re-arming it with modern weapons counts as a fucking stupid idea. As every time there was an internal disagreement in Ukriane's new devolved governing system, you can bet there'd have been Russian troops either on the border, or in the country.

        That was not just normal great power muscle-flexing. It was Putin telling Ukraine that he wanted if not to run their government, to have an internal political veto and an external military one. For ever.

        He never once deviated from those demands. There is now negotiation going on directly and via the Israeli government as mediators. I've seen a leak that the terms are in some ways worse, Ukriane would have to recognise Crimea and the independence of Luhansk and Donetsk (probably on the full province boundaries not what they'd been pushed back to before the war and cut it's army to 60,000 and promise not to join NATO. But in other ways they're actually better, because with the Donbas republics being recognised as independent - there's no political threat to Ukraine. And once Russian troops are out, they can break the terms of that deal any time and expand their army in 5 seconds flat, because they've got the trained personnel. So you do what Weimar Germany did after Versailles and you lose a bunch of privates, but keep the number of staff officers and NCOs to allow you to expand extremely quickly back up to full strength.

        Given Putin also ought to be able to work that out, I'm sure there's some catch or misreporting from journalists being too optimistic - or he'll wait for them to surrender and then say, "Surprise! My army aren't pulling out after all!"

        But anyway Putin's invasion of Ukraine was not "rational" in the sense that it's broken a bunch of his existing policies that were rational. For example, the way the French and Germans allowed him to negotiate and manipluate the Minsk accords gave him a crippling and permanent hold over Ukraine. France and Germany wouldn't support them, because they had political capital invested in their great diplomatic triumph, yet no Ukrainian government could implement Minsk, because Russia never honestly did the bits it was supposed to (like remove its troops) and no government could survive the disaster of allowing the Russian agents at the top of those governments into authority over Ukraine.

        But as soon as Putin recognised the Republics as independent states, he voluntarily fucked up his own quite successful (if immoral, short-termist and dangerous) policy of the last ten years. Launching a full-scale invasion is even madder. He's buggered up his own economy, is taking massive military losses he wouldn't even have been able to afford to replace with the Russian economy at pre-sanctions-collapse levels. And what for? If he conquers Ukraine he's going to need hundreds of thousands of troops to hold it (the place is huge), and if he doesn't he's now lost his political leverage and fucked both his economy and his army.

        US estimates are that Russia has lost about 5% of their initial equipment that they invaded with - something like 1,000 vehicles. Plus 4,000 killed (so you'd expect at least double that wounded enough to be out of action for a bit) Which is about 8% of the invasion force (150k-200k). That's in 2 weeks. And they haven't even launched a major assault into a big city yet. Even if they can unfuck their supply lines this is more than two thirds of the Russian army (and many of its best units) getting heavily damaged. They can replace the manpower, but the equipment is going to be expensive. Another two weeks of this and even if they win the war the Russian army will take a decade to recover. I doubt they can build new, but they can get some old Soviet kit out of mothballs and remanufacture it to more modern standards.

        If it's rational, it's the fucking stupid end of the rationality scale.

      4. Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Putin may not be insane"

        > Actually, his behaviour has been entirely rational.

        Some commentards were complaining about the lack of -- or at least subdued -- Russian propaganda SPAM.

        I take it you are here to prove them wrong.

        It's three minutes flight time from Moscow.

        No, it's 1 hour and 20 minutes:

        > This is literally an exact parallel of the Cuban Missile Crisis, from the Russian point of view [ ... ]

        Great, then. This is what JFK had to say about that:

        It shall be the policy of this Nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.

        If this is the game Putin wants to play again, it's irrational and insane.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Putin may not be insane"

          its 456 miles which is about 30 mins at the speed of a mig 31.

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Russia is basically following the standard script of Great Power politics...

        It might be, but that isn't a proof that actions resulting from the "script" are appropriate for the modern context, justifiable in legal or moral terms, or even likely to give the best (or even a good) outcome for the actor in question.

        It might be that Putin is following this script, and that we all should all have understood this better, and the lengths Putin was prepared to go to, and behaved differently. But an "it's just a standard script" rationale does not justify Putin's current actions in any way, shape, or form.

        After all, presumably the idea of looking to join up with friendly nations (etc) in an alliance, especially when threatened, is also part of a script equally as old (or perhaps even the very same script you mention). And if Ukraine wanted to join NATO, in line with the advice of their script? Or even - as you assert - if NATO wanted to be a larger defensive alliance, as part of theirs?

        So what do we do when two "the script said so" justifications are in conflict? Does an aggressive script somehow carry more justification weight than the defensive one?


        As an aside, militaristic "great power" politics (GPP) is indeed an interesting way to behave, and can indeed often provide sensible advice and justifications for a range of actions, but it isn't the *only* way for a state to behave. Choosing to only behaving according to GPP rules is not dissimilar to wearing a set of blinkers - it might improve focus, but you miss an awful lot of the real action.


        And, finally, this isn't Russia vs the West. It is instead Russia vs Ukraine. So now give us an analysis of why Ukraine behaved as it did. Since we are all in favour of a balanced viewpoint, being neutral observers and all, we might find your analysis interesting.

      6. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Naselus - Re: "Putin may not be insane"

        Same for Romania. Not even the slightest strategic importance for NATO, even less than Ukraine. however, by selling them a couple of old F-16 and placing some outdated radar stations there the only plan is to piss off Russia.

        Everything in this war is like someone wanted it more than anything. I let you the exercise of finding who's to benefit most from it.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: @Naselus - "Putin may not be insane"

          Same for Romania. Not even the slightest strategic importance for NATO, even less than Ukraine. however, by selling them a couple of old F-16 and placing some outdated radar stations there the only plan is to piss off Russia.

          This is where Putin's political analysis is at its most faulty. Him being an old KGB warhorse, still smarting at the loss of the Cold War - but too arrogant/stupid (or maybe just not posessing sufficient moral character) to analyse why his side lost.

          To Putin the world is a zero-sum game. There's only so much cake to have - and damned if he's going to share. He's going to grab as much of the cake as possible - and failing that if he can't have cake - he'll destroy some of the cake so nobody gets it.

          But neither economics or security are zero sum. That's why globalisation (despite having some economic losers amongst the lowest paid in the Western economies) has made the whole world richer. Including Russia, China, Africa, and the West too. Russia stopped getting richer after the sanctions imposed due to the annexation of Crimea - but up to then it's been doing quite well, even despite Putin's terrible mismanagement.

          Meanwhile the West has been trying to extend peace and security (as well as economic growth) as far as it can. Imperfectly, and with many mistakes.

          So European powers decided not to ignore Eastern Europe, but to share their largesse with them after the Cold War. And it can be seen how effective this was. The requirements to democratise the nastier areas of their governments and security services was part of the price of joining NATO - and democracy and liberal economics was the price of joining the EU. You can see how both of these in tandem made Europe more predictable, safer and richer. And therefore how extending this to Romania was in NATO's interests.

          Plus you can compare the huge success of Poland, the Baltic States, Czechia and Slovakia to the terrible mess that is Belarus or Russia. Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria have also seen huge improvements, but not been quite so successful. In fact we might link closeness to Russia to failure in this context. Both physical and political. Bulgaria and Hungary have the closest links to Russia of the EU accession countries, and are doing the least well. Serbia suffers from having remained allied to Russia, rather than seeing where the success in Europe is and getting in with the Western powers. Belarus is now a basketcase. Ukraine, which was making large (if imperfect steps) in a more Westward looking direction was starting to do rather well, probably the reason Putin decided to destroy everything, in a fit of pique that they'd rejected his model.

          But then of course, I'm talking as if Putin gave a fuck about the welfare of the Russian people. And as if economic growth and security for ordinary people were his objectives. But of course they aren't. Putin's objectives are the world being nice for Putin. Having a palace built at taxpayers expense with a lapdancing room in it. Keeping it classy Vlad! Having the fantasy of moving troops and spies round the map as if he was still in charge of a global superpower. Maintaining an insanely huge nuclear arsenal, rather than a sensible deterrent - as China do. And most important of all - staying in power forever, despite being shit at his job and having overseen an economy that hasn't grown in 15 years! And having fucked up even that lack of success by inviting on his country the largest package of coordinated sanctions ever seen in world history - by uniting most of the world in disgust at his vicious invasion of a neighbouring country for no fucking reason. Not to mention the war crimes of course.

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: @Naselus - "Putin may not be insane"

          There is plenty of strategic use for Romania in NATO. No, it's not watching Russia. It's having Romania as an ally that works for similar goals, rather than another possible source of risk. Not to mention that, if Russia takes all of Ukraine, there suddenly is a lot more use for military defenses and intelligence around the south of it.

        3. captain veg Silver badge

          Re: @Naselus - "Putin may not be insane"

          let != leave. You are a foreign troll.


          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

            Re: @Naselus - "Putin may not be insane"

            Hard to know whether to upvote, or downvote you for that comment.

            In the end, I went for the downvote, because the xenophobia outweighed the castigation of an obvious Putinist troll.

      7. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: "Putin may not be insane"

        All this talk of a defensive military alliance, which has been in existence since the end of WW2 and hasn't attacked or invaded anyone*, being hostile.

        Someone has been drinking Putin's Kool-aid. Careful there's no polonium in it.

        *Unless you count their intervention in Serbia in 1994. This was precipitated by the "ethnic cleansing" (genocide) of ethnic Albanians by a whole load of unpleasant fellows who were later tried and found guilty of war crimes. Nobody annexed their territory under the pretext of "this used to belong to us", like Putin is trying to do, either.

        Read up on the confilct if you want to know more about why NATO forces intervened. Not many would argue that the decision was incorrect.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "Putin may not be insane"

      "Citation required."

      Citation? So long as it's not Russian owned or it won't be allowed in UK/EU/US airspace :-)

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Putin may not be insane"

      He assumes that everyone is out to get him.

      Guess what. Now they are.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: "Putin may not be insane"

        As the old saying goes, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they are not out to get you".

  4. Omnipresent

    There are several answers to this.

    Putin is KGB. He specializes in things like brain washing, fear, and as a last resort poison. You fail to realize he is less brute force, and depends on his thugs for that, who have been kept busy with the hacktavist community. Putin is very much attacking the free world, and has been for a long time. He does it through social media outlets like facebook, twitter, and spotify. These are all KUSHNER companies that seek to cause unrest from within. Putin has owned our social since the beginning, and we are just now exposing it.

    1. Blazde

      Re: There are several answers to this.

      It's not helping him now though is it? Public opinion in the free world is firmly on Ukraine's side. In one move he's squandered what small vocal support he spent years building up. Even in Russia young people (who matter re revolution etc) fear arrest or worse and keep their heads down, but for the most part are not brainwashed.

      Perhaps he needs to wash his own brain once in a while..

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: There are several answers to this.

        I put my brain on the 90° program, and it is a good deal whiter now. But sadly it shrank in the wash. Can I take it back to the shop for a refund?

        1. Paul Kinsler Silver badge

          Re: I put my brain on the 90° program [...] do I get a refund?

          It depends. Did it get turned 90° as a right angle, or as a left angle? :-)

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: There are several answers to this.

      from the top of the article: wreck major US internet sites such as Google, Facebook, and Microsoft

      yeah Vlad the Putinator isn't going to shoot his own foot, at least not THAT foot, which has already proven itself to be extremely useful in damaging "the West" (in general).

  5. John69

    What about us?

    Is not the bigger question where are the (serious) anti-Russian cyberattacks? The whole of the west is happy to send them planes and missiles, surely this is a time to take off the gloves in the cyber war? Yet we hear about more harm to Ukraine's IT than Russian, and what damage is done is attributed to the anonymous collective. Is this the best the combined offensive IT militaries of the west west can do?

    1. Omnipresent

      Re: What about us?

      Believe me, he has his hands full. Between Ukraines backed hacker group, and anon, they have done things like take over state run media and knock out spy sats. What the west fears is a third party entity getting involved and unknowingly setting off a chain reaction of events. We are asking that no third party take action. There is a highly specialized group at cyber war with Putin, who don't take down things like critical infrastructure. They are precise counter strikes.

    2. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

      Re: What about us?

      The weapons supplied to the Ukrainians are (so far / apparently, based on media reports) short ranged weapons (Anti-armour, anti-aircraft and small arms) (Plus body armour, medical supplies and other non-weaponry).

      These can be classified as 'defensive' in that they cannot be used to attack targets in Russia. (yes, obviously, not if you fire from the border line or cross the border, etc, etc), but only at targets that are part of the invading force inside Ukraine.

      I suspect that reluctance of the US to agree to the transfer of the Polish MiGs to Ukraine is in part related to this. Anything that allows an attack on Russian soil is probably viewed in the west as dangerous escalation (I'm inclined to think it would be).

      A cyber attack on Russian infrastructure is an actual attack on Russia. That is definitely dangerous escalation.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: What about us?

        Cyber attacks invite retaliation. Which could be cyber, or military - if they destroy/damage something vital.

        For the West we don't want to escalate too much. Whenever you read the more excitable pundits about Putin you're always told that he has escalation dominace - due to being willing to go further than the pathetic namby-pamby Western leaders. But actually, in his career he's tended to threaten escalation - but in practise he's often been quite cautious. It's what makes this all-out attack on Ukraine so scary, because it's out of character and seems to have few upsides.

        But even for him, escalation carries risks. He's fighting a massive war of aggression, but has just introduced comprehensive censorship within Russia to try and pretend that he's actually only embarked on a limited military campaign in defence of the poor downtrodden Russian-speakers of Eastern Ukraine. Being crushed under the jackboot of Nazis, NATO and the EU. If he launches cyber-attacks at us, we could do a lot of damage to that censorship. Plus he's also vulnerable in Ukraine. Say he launches a major cyber-attack on NATO and we respond by jamming all their military communications in Ukraine, and/or their radars? Even just their satnav? I think the Ukrainians have been removing road signs - I saw one motorway sign on the way to Odessa that had been changed to Ahead - Fuck off; Left - Fuck off into the sea - Right Fuck off back to Russia...

        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: What about us?

          I think the problem is we've backed an angry bear into a corner, and are still busily poking it with a stick. For years, we've been demonising Russia, and especially Putin to promote regime change, and now we've created 'Putin the Disruptor'. Bit lame, but job done Russia's economy in the process of being wrecked, pressure to replace Putin, and all it's cost NATO and the West is to sacrifice Ukraine. Who regardless of eventual outcome are even more fsck'd than they were after being tempted by cookies in 2014. A lot of death, destruction and new debt.

          As for cyber warfare, I suggest a couple of possibilities

          1) The threat has been overstated. Blame Russia for hacking the Democrats, and creating Stuxnet. Of course other hackers are available, and it's trivial to bounce attacks off hosts to disguise the origin. Or claims could be false, and Russia doesn't have the capability.

          2) It does have the capability, it just hasn't chosen to use it. Yet.

          But I think that's been a general flaw. We're perhaps over dramatising what's happened. So we're told Ukrainian towns have been under continuous heavy bombardment, but we're not shown that. We know though what that should look like. There are plenty of images from Grozny, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan etc etc. That's a bigger issue in Ukraine given the heavy fighting (including shelling & missiles) that have done damage since the civil unrest began in 2014.

          We're also being told it's been going badly for Russia. The invasion has stalled, Russians suck. Keep up the propaganda to that effect. Alternatively, Russia might have built in pauses. Advance, pause for diplomacy, escalate, and repeat.

          So diplomacy has obviously failed. Ukraine is naturally reluctant to surrender and capitulate. Russia's advanced on Kiev and other population centres. What it hasn't done yet is be typically Russian. But now there's been civilian evacuations, I suspect the situation is going to get a whole lot worse. Fewer civilians to worry about, so start doing block removal. Think the typical conflict footage we've seen of 'shock and awe' campaigns. So strategic bombing. Walking artillery barrages clearing paths from 'burbs to administrative centres. Basically Kiev starts looking like Grozny, or Allepo.

          That hasn't happened. Yet.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: What about us?

            Your problem is that you're getting a bunch of facts wrong, which isn't helping convince people of your point.

            "For years, we've been demonising Russia, and especially Putin to promote regime change,": No, we haven't. We've told the truth about him, and condemned his crimes (often a lot less than you'd expect). Regime change is a strong call and they haven't been making it.

            "Blame Russia for hacking the Democrats, and creating Stuxnet.": One of the most obvious problems. Stuxnet isn't from Russia. Stuxnet is either Israeli, American, or a joint effort. If you can't be bothered to figure out for what Russia is typically blamed, you can't argue very well whether they're being blamed correctly.

            "So we're told Ukrainian towns have been under continuous heavy bombardment, but we're not shown that. We know though what that should look like. There are plenty of images from Grozny, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan etc etc.": You're comparing cities that were just fine before they were attacked recently with cities that have been involved in civil wars for a long time. The ones with civil wars tend to get more destruction because it builds up over months of attacks and nobody fixing it because they know it's going to be attacked again. Not to mention that there are pictures of seriously damaged Ukrainian cities. I wonder if you're looking at those.

            With a pattern of incorrect statements like this, I have to ask if you're doing this deliberately.

            1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: What about us?

              Yes, it's entirely deliberate.

              Demonisation of Russia and Putin is a statement of fact. Both are obviously behind all the world's problems. Putin hacked the Clintons, and helped Trump steal the election. There's no evidence for that, just as there's no evidence for corruption or influence involving the Bidens and Ukraine.

              Putin is just evil. He bombs hospitals. We've never done that! So break Navalny out of jail, and installed as Russian President, now!

              Oh, and you're saying Stuxnet wasn't Russian? It was a cyberattack against a sovereign nation's nuclear programme that could have resulted in serious radiological contamination. Or an action we might consider an act of war. Just as well it was our friends and allies doing it I guess.

              Oh, and you're wrong about Donbas as well. That 'civil' war started in 2014, resulted in thousands of deaths and casualties, and displaced around 1.5m Ukrainians. It was also characterised by bombing, shelling and missile attacks. Infrastructure like road & rail bridges were destroyed. Homes were destroyed. There was heavy damage in cities like Mariupol, after rebels captured it, and then the UAF (plus irregulars) re-took it. And a lot of the current fighting is taking place over the same ground.

              (should I use more /sarc tags?)

              1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                Re: What about us?

                Putin is just evil.

                Jellied Eel,

                Well amongst all the crap you've posted on this topic in the last few weeks, at least you've got one bit right. Yup Vladimir Putin is just evil. My evidence:

                He voluntarily joined the KGB in the 1970s. Becoming a Chekist in the heady early revolutionary days of communist ideology and heroically fighting for the revolution against the foreigners is understandable. But everybody knew what the KBG was by the 1970s. And despite all the ex KGB types still mythologising their history as being the supermen beating Western intelligence in the Cold War - which was at least somewhat true up until the 1950s when the ideological shine had worn off the Soviet Union - what the KGB did was spy on, imprison and murder Soviet citizens. Yes it spied on foreigners, but most of its time and resources was spent oppressing Russians. That's why it was the Sword and Shield of the Party. If you'd willingly join the KGB in the 70s, you'd have joined the SS in 1940.

                When Putin was Prime Minister, and then President, he used the 2nd Chechen war to gain him notoriety and popularity to get that promotion. Let's say we disbelieve the evidence that the FSB deliberatly blew up those apartments in Russia as a casus belli on Putin's orders. That's not been proved. But Putin was in charge when Grozny was levelled. Killing thousands of not only civilians, but supposedly Russian citizens. After all, that's what the war as about.

                And Putin was in charge when the Russian army spent the next few years occupying Chechnya and kidnapping, looting and raping their way across Russian territory.

                We have the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. They might have joined NATO in ten years they might not, but it wasn't going to happen tomorrow. And if Putin was worried about it, he could have saved his invasion until it was actually possible it might happen.

                We have the murder of opposition leaders in Russia, journalists, and the odd person abroad. The use of polonium and Novichok as weapons of terror. I could forgive murdering Litvinenko, who was actively out to get Putin if they'd just shot him. But oh no! They had to be all Bond villain and do it with a hideous radioactive poison that the incompetent FSB operatives in question then spread all around London risking the lives of thousands of others.

                Skripal though was a reitred double agent, who wasn't doing any more harm. Putin had personally pardonned him - he was part of an agent exchange. I don't think the KGB in the Cold War ever "broke the rules" and tried to murder an agent once traded away. And to do it with a nerve agent randomly spread on a door handle that killed one innocent party and did lifelong damage to two others is unforgiveably careless.

                Then we can add to the war crimes. I've seen the footage of Russian rocket artillery strikes on the centre of Mariupol and Kharkiv. One with cluster munitions. That's not precision fire in order to attack enemy combatants, that's the use of indiscriminate weapons against civilian targets. Putin's in charge. He's sacked no generals for doing it. Ergo he's a war criminal. Seeing as he has recently claimed that all Ukrainians are really Russians he's yet again proving his willingness to murder his own citizens.

                Oh talking of war crimes, we've also noticed that Putin has a penchant for bombing hospitals. Again, he's at the top of the military chain of command, so he's the war criminal in charge. It was done throughout the Russian intervention in Syria and is now starting in Ukraine. Everybody fucks up in war, and hitting civilian targets after a serious attempt to avoid it is not a war crime. A deliberate campaign to bomb hospitals and first aid posts, as the Syrians and Russians did in Aleppo is. It's hard to attribute, but the Russians actually proved it at the end of last year. An Aleppo hospital was bombed in 2016. It was done with a dumb bomb, so couldn't be attributed to either Syria or Russia and could have been a mistake, except they bombed all the hospitals repeatedly. Until the middle of last year, when the Russian Ministry of Defence put out a fancy video, showing the heroic pilots of the Russian air force blowing stuff up. And they used the video of that strike in it. A nice confession.

                You are defending the indefensible. And should be ashamed of some of your posts.

                1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                  Re: What about us?

                  Ah, evidence, and whataboutery.

                  So KGB. Merkel worked alongside them when she was in the Stasi. Turned out OK for Germany though. No idea if that means she would have joined the SS, as you claim.

                  Chechnya's a bit like Ukraine though. USSR collapses, coup members chucked the Communist Party leader out of a window, and declared themselves independent. Yeltsin was not amused, and so began the First Chechen War, and re-modelling of Grozny. Much the same situation as with Donbas in 2014, with Ukraine refusing to allow regional autonomy (Wales, Scotland, NI can though) and using force to retake them.

                  Second time around, it got more complicated. The region has a large Islamic population with ambitions to turn Dagestan into a new Caliphate, helped along by outsiders like Ibn al-Khattab. So there was a bunch of terrorism, and Russia started planning to restore order. As for the Moscow bombings being fake news, who knows? Wiki cites a New York Review book plug as it's sole 'reliable source' though. Putin certainly exploited 'Russia's 9/11 though, and presumably it's OK to wage war on terror against Islamic extremism because we've been doing that for years.

                  But Kiev doesn't look like Grozny, yet. Which might suggest Putin's showing restraint.

                  There's also the related matter of Russia vs Georgia. General perception is that was Putin. Even though the EU's report found Georgia as the aggressor.

                  Then there's the assassinations. Obviously you want people to know what happens when you mess with Putin. So you conduct elaborate plans, with easily identifiable fingerprints. Only Russia has polonium. Litvinenko's only enemy was Putin. Only Putin could hire Russian thugs to make tea. Or Salisbury, which demonstrated Putin is both evil, and incompetent. Using a uniquely Russian, incredibly lethal nerve agent, he failed to kill either of his potential targets. One person unlucky enough to find the poisoned bottle did die though.

                  And then there's Einstein. Or Navalny. A possible hybrid attack involving both tea, and the Salisbury poison. Navalny also survived. And on the plus side, more people in Russia know his name. Might be handy if you're looking for someone to replace Putin. Not like anyone's looking to do the regime change thing though, is it?

                  And so to war crimes. Potentially one of the best things to come out of this shitshow. If bombing and shelling civilians is a war crime (even if you knock on the roof first) then I guess we better stop doing that. Even if people are shooting at you from those buildings. And hospitals absolutely must not be bombed.

                  Or there was the 2015 Khunduz Trauma Centre, 42 dead, including children and MSF medical staff. Not a war crime, and an apology from Nobel Peace Prize winner, Obama settled the matter. Oh, and $6,000 in compensation, which I guess shows the value placed on other people's lives.

                  But such is politics. I'm by no means a Russian apologist, or condone Russia's actions. I do however dislike hypocrisy, and lousy reporting & propaganda. I can understand it though. Ukraine's facing an existential threat, and pushing propaganda hard. So last night's update from Zelenskyy made the comment that Ukraine hasn't, and wouldn't shell it's own people. And yet it has done during it's civil war.

                  1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                    Re: What about us?

                    Jellied Eel,

                    Merkel worked alongside them when she was in the Stasi.

                    Merkel wasn't in the Stasi. She was an academic. Putin did voluntarily join the KGB in 1975. What was your first line about whataboutery again? You know the KGB? State security organisation that spied on ordinary Russians for 50 years, tortured a few, murdered a few, ran a chain of Gulags in Siberia. Slightly "better" than the SS because they killed and tortured more people and also ran death camps, but didn't deliberately commit a genocide. Remember them?

                    But Kiev doesn't look like Grozny, yet. Which might suggest Putin's showing restraint.

                    Mariupol, Kharkiv and Chernihiv do. Perhaps the reason Kyiv doesn't yet is because the Russian army have so fucked up their supply lines that they can't get sufficient ammunition to the front lines to do it. Again, though, more whataboutery from you, which you should be ashamed of. Destroying Grozny was a war crime. As for Aleppo, although that was to be fair a joint effort with Syria and Iran. As are the destruction of cities in Ukraine that are currently ongoing.

                    I'm by no means a Russian apologist

                    No. You are a Russian apologist. It's literally what you've been doing on threads about Ukraine, both before and after the invasion.

                    It's very simple. Nobody is perfect. But Putin is actually, genuinely and unambigously evil. When he orders the slaughter of thousands of civilians at a time, he's not doing it by mistake. It's coldly calculated and deliberate policy. Admittedly often counterproductive and stupid, but still deliberately calculated policy. Killing civilians in the normal persuit of war is legal, deliberately targetting civilians is not.

                    And what makes it worse? He claims to be doing it for Russia. But that's a lie. He doesn't care about keeping NATO out of Ukraine. That was achieved ten years ago with the annexation of Crimea and the intervention in Donbas. To be honest it was always unlikely, because France and Germany were both against. The reason he's attacking Ukraine now is personal. The fear of having an increasingly well-functioning democracy next door, full of Russian speakers. Which might tempt the poor downtrodden Russians that he oppresses to think about getting rid of him. That's a lot of blood so one old man can avoid enforced retirement.

                    As I said above, you should be ashamed of yourself.

                    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                      Re: What about us?

                      I guess neither of us have any shame.

                      You glossed over the legality of bombing hospitals though. What, specifically, makes it a war crime? Russia's done it, we've done it, not much in the way of successful prosecutions though. Of course that isn't helped when nations opt out or refuse to recognise international courts.

                      But again, hypocrisy. Bush jr ordered a massive attack on Iraq. Some time after the 'Mission Accomplished" photo op, somewhere around 150k - 1m+ civilians died. Syria's had 500k+ dead. Afghanistan gave the world modern cattle trains with the Dasht-i-leili incident, where a disputed number of Afghani were locked in shipping containers and died during prisoner transport.

                      Again it's possible that litigation may clarify the laws of war. And being a legal thing, evidence of crimes by any party to the conflict should be investigated, and potentially prosecuted.

                      I don't view it as shameful for suggesting we hold ourselves to the same standards as our political or ideological opponents.

                      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

                        Re: What about us?

                        You glossed over the legality of bombing hospitals though. What, specifically, makes it a war crime? Russia's done it, we've done it, not much in the way of successful prosecutions though.

                        Jellied Eel,

                        No, I didn't gloss over the legality. I mentioned it. I'll now clarify. International law is broadly based on English common law. In order for something to be a crime, you usually have to prove mens rea (latin for guilty mind / guilty thoughts). Something not done deliberately is not usually a crime. Although you have to take negligence into account here. So bombing a hospital need not be a warcrime.

                        After all, if killing a civilian was a war crime, war would become illegal. Which would be no bad thing, except that banning war is very unlikely to stop war. This invasion of Ukraine is unarguably illegal after all, and yet has still happened. What is a war crime, is the deliberate targetting of civilians.

                        So bomb one hospital it's impossible to know if you meant it. Bomb every hospital, as Russia and Syria did in Aleppo, and it's bloody obvious.

                        Equally if you drop a well targetted bomb in a city at a legitimate military target, not a war crime even if you miss. Say in the Belgrade bombing over Kosovo when NATO hit the Chinese embassy (ooops!). So long as you made a serious effort to be accurate and employed a method that had a reasonably good chance of succeeding. Use unguided rocket artillery on a city centre - definite war crime.

                        Russia have only so far bombed a few hospitals in Ukraine. But it's a tactic they used consistently in Syria and Russia aren't getting the benefit of the doubt due to their illegal war of aggression. So we're all leaping to the conclusion that this is a war crime too. But there's currently doubt.

                        However the use of unguided rocket artillery in cities, which has been shown by various journalists on the ground in Ukraine in Mariupol and Kharkiv is undoubtedly and definitively a war crime.

                        The US and UK both have rocket artillery. It was deployed to Iraq in 1991, I don't know about 2003. It wasn't used on cities - I don't even know if was used on the Iraqi army - though I doubt they'd have taken it and not used it. But when they plan airstrikes the UK have a staff officer on the planning group whose job is minimizing civilian casualties. And US and US airmen are trained to employ the best weapon for the job in relation to what collaterol damage it will cause. In fact a lot of modern NATO weapons have smaller warheads and are more accurate for this very reason.

                        Russia on the other hand deliberately target civilians. Terror is part of their military objectives. They've realised they've not got the manpower for taking cities and so have decided that heavy bombardment and terror tactics are their best way to achieve the objective. Hence the trick of opening civilian evacuation corridors and then shelling them as soon as civilians start to evacuated down them - now done at least 3 times in Mariupol and again straight out of the Syria playbook.

                        So criticise Iraq and Afghanistan if you like. Although in both cases the governments were told what they could do to avoid war, and chose not to. In the case of Sadam of course the tragedy was that he seems to have destroyed a bunch of his chemical weapons on his own, after throwing out the UN weaspons inspectors in the 90s, and so was unable to prove that he'd already complied in 2003. I'm not quite sure why you're blaming the West for the huge death toll in Syria. That's down to the Syrian, Russian and Iranian governments. The western powers were only peripherally involved in the main action, they were fighting ISIS in Iraq and in the bits of Syria where the government had already pulled out - the massive death toll in Syria was around Damscus, in Homs, Idlib and Aleppo. Where Russia were fighting to protect a government that would rather shoot (and or use chemical weapons on) its own people in order to stay in power.

                        But this is the first post where I can remember you deploying the "the West are as bad as Putin" argument, rather than justifying Putin's actions. Which are different arguments. But the difference between our governments and Putin is night and day. If you look at the political aims of conflict, or the methods of achieving them - you can see that Putin is a vicious tyrant, employing the most brutal methods in order to achieve basically fuck all of any use. He's either fighting a war of aggression to conquer and annex Ukraine to Russia or a pointless war of aggression in order stop Ukraine being a relatively free and successful democracy which is a threat to his personal rule. And using barbaric methods to achieve that. It should be an obvious difference.

                        One thing we might agree on though. International law is a bit of a fiction. Given that large chunks of it require the cooperation of the UN Security Council that has 5, often self-interested, permanent members with vetoes. And there's often no court to decide. The US/UK justification for invading Iraq in 2003 was basically that it was in violation of the ceasefire agreement from 1991 - where it promised to disarm it's chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs. Which we had proof that it hadn't done as of 1998, when the UN weapons inspectors were thrown out. But of course you can say that's a legal justification for war, but without a court to test it you can also claim its an illegal war using different legal opinions.

                        1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

                          Re: What about us?

                          Again, hypocrisy.

                          Plenty of hospitals, weddings, schools and civilian buildings have been bombed by us, or our allies. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes not. By the standards applied to Russia, we are equally guilty.

                          There are also some assumptions. If someone is shooting at you from a hospital, using it as an OP or CP, or in some other military capacity, then it can lose civilian protection and become a lawful target. Again this is the human shield dillema, especially when enemies think they know they won't be targeted, or the propaganda value if they are. Think back to the infamous bombing of a civil defence bunker in Baghdad that killed a lot of civilians. And remember that using a civilian structure for military purposes can also be a war crime, especially if there's an intent to draw fire.

                          OK, so that can be hard to do in urban conflicts, but the law is the law. Isn't it?

                          As for us and rockets, we do that as well. Check out the battle of Al Busayya for an example from 1991. An armour probe followed by heavy artillery & rocket bombardment of the town. Or for something more recent, OSCE reports from Ukraine since 2014 detailing shelling and rocket attacks from all sides in their civil war. Or even more recently, UAF shelling a Russian tank column that was clearly in a residential area.

                          Not war crimes, sadly just war.

                          But surely you can see that Bush was a vicious tyrant, employing the most brutal methods in order to achieve nothing of any use. But that war started because Afghanistan failed to extradite bin Laden. And continued long after OBL was found alive & well (briefly) in Pakistan. 20yrs on Biden gave up and pulled out.

                          We are equally guilty, or complicit if we don't hold ourselves to the standards we expect from Russia.

          2. John69

            Re: What about us?

            > we're told Ukrainian towns have been under continuous heavy bombardment, but we're not shown that.


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Serious cyberattacks...

    ...are the ones we do not notice.

    I don't think that writing "Putin woz 'ere" on a website is much of a problem...

  7. Povl H. Pedersen

    Cyberattack = real attack

    NATO considers a cyuberattack on citricial infrastructure as a real attack, that invokes the paragraph 5 of NATO.

    So that would be a war declaration against NATO.

    But I think that Russia does not really have the capabilities they thought. Not hackers, and certainly not a good army.

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: Cyberattack = real attack

      Plenty of the hacks attributed to Russian and Chinese hackers do not originate there. This is well known in the industry.

      Where do they originate is open to debate.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Cyberattack = real attack

      I think the Russians have a lot of capabilities. However, they're probably quite badly led - given that promotion is as much about political loyalty and patronage as it is about competence.

      But as you say, NATO might respond. And there's a lot we could do at the moment to seriously destablise Russia. And they might nto want to tempt NATO into getting even more involved in Ukraine than we already are. Because NATO have the capability to seriously mess with Russia's command and control - adn they're having enough trouble with that as it is...

    3. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Cyberattack = real attack

      "But I think that Russia does not really have the capabilities they thought. Not hackers, and certainly not a good army."

      I don't think that's it. They have the ability to cause damage, but no benefit from doing so. Let's say they can turn off the power in some parts of the U.S. They probably could manage it with sufficient effort. If they do, lots of Americans are unhappy. In two days, things get turned back on and everyone goes back to normal. In the meantime, it's declared as an act of war and Russia now has to deal with any retaliation. They wouldn't do that because the undefined reaction of an angry country with lots of weapons is a high price to pay for inconveniencing some enemies.

      When asking the central question of the article, ask what is the benefit for Russia in conducting the various possible attacks. Even if they struck at the places implementing the sanctions against them, it's not going to prevent new sanctions coming into play. Attacking anything more strongly is most likely just to get them another enemy willing to escalate. The only attacks I would predict are in and against Ukraine itself, and I am sure there are many of them. However, blowing up a phone line is a more efficient way of cutting off communication than taking it down with malware, and they have people near a lot of the stuff they might want to take down.

  8. Phones Sheridan Bronze badge

    I did notice a seriously large uptick in the amount of hits my networks were getting from Russia. At first I Geo-Blocked at the firewalls all russian IPs for all services but web servers, Within a few hours came a huge increase from Ukrainian IPs, so I added that country to the blocking rules. I then ended up playing whack-a-mole over the next few days as the surge switched to China, North Korea then Malaysia, Belize and finally Spain. My final solution was setting up a honeypot on an unused IP with nothing on it, that logged the probes and attempted log-ins to things like FTP, MySQL, POP3, RDP etc. A single probe or login attempt and the IP address is added to my firewall blocks network-wide. It seems to be working, the deluge is now a manageable trickle and I'm not constantly looking at the logs all day long.

    The most interesting thing I found in the logs, I did lookups on blocked IPs, and found some were registered as belonging to the FSB. So it looks like they are openly and brazenly probing the internet looking for services.

  9. man_iii
    Thumb Up

    Russian bots are down

    Got geoip and ban lists active. Mostly blocked






    Attacks are waaaaay down to about 100 unsuccessful per week now compared to about 1000 attempts per day just a month back!!!!

  10. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    "...I fear Russia still has a cache of zero-day vulnerabilities..."

    The thing about caches is they go stale. Bugs are found and patched - helped by bug bounties for the good guys.

  11. Precordial thump

    cyberattacks I'd like to see

    Elon, if you're listening...

    How about every oligarch-owned Tesla in the Moscow area decides to suddenly drive itself to one of the gates in the Kremlin wall and wedge itself into the wreckage of the one that did the same thing ten seconds earlier?

  12. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Maybe we've got it all wrong

    Maybe this is just a cry for help from a sad and lonely man who doesn't want to win any war, he just wants to stop being in charge, and the war on Ukraine was all he could think of. "Maybe, if I just fuck this up badly enough, I'll be removed from power, and I can finally retire."

    1. Clausewitz 4.0 Bronze badge

      Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong

      Are you serious? We are watching Oil prices skyrocketing in gas pumps at USA

      China partnering with Russia, including in banking. If they setup the SWIFT-like alternative, bye bye Petrodollar

      USA desperate for oil reaching Iran and Venezuela, lifting sanctions and being dumped by the Saudis

      Russian intelligence is currently sitting at a massive throve of Intel from US Military/Justice due to SolarWinds, to be used when it better fits

      Patience is not defeat

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong

        Meanwhile, back in reality, the Russian economy is about to shrink by at least 25% in the first three months of this year. Russia has just committed three quarters of its deployable armed forces to a meat-grinder in Ukraine, with no obvious exit strategy. And is taking losses of close to 3% a week - meaning that in 6 weeks time the best units of the Russian army will be 20% dead and have had 20% of its equipment either blown up or stolen by Ukrainian farmers.

        This doesn't strike me as genius level planning. Particularly since a divided and disinterested West is now a united, angry and motivated West. Picking up allies like Japan and South Korea who hope this new common purpose and strategic attitude can also be directed towards China - hopefully before China invades somewhere new.

        You can call that a patient bit of strategic brilliance if you want. To me the word Clusterfuck appears more appropriate. Oh add hideous, evil, stupid and criminal.

        1. juice Silver badge

          Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong

          I'll agree with most of that,, except for...

          > And is taking losses of close to 3% a week - meaning that in 6 weeks time the best units of the Russian army will be 20% dead and have had 20% of its equipment either blown up or stolen by Ukrainian farmers.

          It's a sad truth that losses are always higher at the start of the war; Darwin's law is ruthlessly applied and the weak, incompetent, inexperienced and plain unlucky are blown away like chaff.

          And similar applies to their equipment; anything unreliable or nearing EOL will be winnowed out.

          But the survivors learn. New doctrine evolves. Losses will drop. And they'll get better at protecting their equipment and vehicles, because their lives literally depend on it.

          Admittedly, the Ukrainians are undergoing the exact same process, and learning the exact same lessons.

          Which means that the war is likely to bog down even more, as both sides adopt more cautious approaches to taking on the opposition.

          That is, unless Russia can persuade it's conscripts to keep running head first into situations where they're likely to get killed. After all, a war of attrition worked in WW2... but this isn't WW2, and they've not got any allies willing to send them money and war materiel to keep the grinder working.

          And that also gives rise to another concern, especially when it comes to the Russians, since it makes them increasingly likely to adopt more brutal approaches to dealing with enemy attacks and ambushes. Sniper in a building? Call in an artillery strike, and to hell with collateral damage or any nearby civilians.

          We just have to hope that some sort of diplomatic solution can be found sooner rather than later.

          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

            Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong


            I certainly agree with you on the diplomatic solution. It looks like Russia are now trying diplomacy, because perhaps they've realised it's all gone a bit wrong. I'm convinced their pre-war diplomatic efforts were entirely fake - demanding bizarre levels of concessions for nothing in return. I think US/UK intelligence was right, and Putin had decided on war last year.

            As Ukraine are in no fit state to counter-attack and push them out, they'll hopefully be willing to make concessions. As long as both sides recognise reality - but that's not a given for Putin, even yet.

            I think there's a good chance Ukraine can hold out on the defensive - even if Russia commit fully. But that means a few thousand dead civilians a week. Russia have made good progress on several axes of advance, but they've only got at most 200,000 troops (and about 50,000 of those are Rosvgardia paramilitaries and irregulars from Donbas. This also means their front lines are massive! And their vulnerable rear areas even more so. If Ukraine can keep troops behind the lines hitting logistics convoys - then not only won't Russia be able to conduct complex operations, they won't even be able to shell the cities effectively. It takes one truck to reload one multiple rocket launcher, and there are 27 in a battalion. So that's 27 supply trucks for one salvo of rockets that have got to drive 100km to the unit, unload, then back to a supply depot, load and drive back. Plus maintenance, refuelling and dinner for the driver. Artillery shells are smaller, but you don't get the same high impact of a massed rocket strike.

            And those front lines are going to be increasingly porous, the more territory the Russians take - and their huge advances down the South coast have made the front line twice as long. That was always Hitler and Stalin's mistake - going for territory. Defeat the enemy army, then you can go wherever you like. That could be the front that overwhelms Ukraine, or the one that fatally over-extends Russia.

            Plus if Russia tries to storm a city, their casualty rates are going to sky-rocket. But if they don't, they're going to struggle to shorten their lines. Without access to better data than the open source intelligence bods on Twitter, it's impossible to know the real situation. But the Russians have failed to fully break through anywhere and conduct what the Soviets used to call deep operations - probably because they've attacked Ukraine at too many points where they're strong. I don't know how mobile the Ukrainian army was to start with, and how mobile it still is now. So Russia could break through decisively tomorrow, or never. Although taking a major city might still be beyond them without a prolonged siege and strarving it out, and I'm still not sure they can sustain this level of operations for long enough. The Germans were under-manned in Ukraine in 1941 and had over a million troops...

            1. juice Silver badge

              Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong

              > I think there's a good chance Ukraine can hold out on the defensive - even if Russia commit fully. But that means a few thousand dead civilians a week

              Aye - I think we're generally in broad agreement on this one; when a "short victorious war" failed to occur, the only realistic outcome is a long, dragged out and messy slugfest which is unlikely to end until one side runs out of resources and is forced to compromise.

              And a whole lot of people will suffer or die along the way.

              This morning, a friend mentioned The Battle of Grozny, which I hadn't previously looked into. And having read that, there's definitely a worrying number of parallels between what happened when Russia tried to invade Chechnya in 1994, and what's happening now.

              And it's perhaps telling that Grozny was 30 years ago, which is long enough for virtually all of the surviving Russian soldiers and commanders to have retired...


              One key point from that article is what I alluded to above, about the possibility that Russian soldiers will decide to take a more brutal approach:

              The Russians proceeded to bombard Grozny with artillery, tank, and rocket fire as the rest of the battle centered on new tactics in which the Russians proceeded to destroy the city block by block. White phosphorus rounds and fuel-air explosive Shmel rockets were used by the Russian forces. They would then send in small groups of men sometimes spearheaded by special forces, making effective use of sniper teams. Two long weeks of costly bitter fighting ensued as the Russians moved to take the Presidential Palace.

              It also notes that the Russian forces repeatedly broke ceasefires and agreements to limit the use of heavy weapons. All of which I'm sure the Ukranian leadership has taken very careful note of...

      2. Cav Bronze badge

        Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong

        "USA desperate for oil". Not in the real world. The US can easily make up for the small amount of Russian oil it is not going to receive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong

          We haven't imported Russian oil to Canada for years but have now officially banned it and gas has gone to $2.10/litre - apparently this is Russia's fault

          1. Caver_Dave

            Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong

            World prices have gone up.

            Therefore the worth of Canadian Oil has gone up.

            The Canadian Oil companies are not going to subsidize it for Canadian purchasers, just think of the poor shareholders dividends!

            Ditto grains, gas and a whole load more of globally marketed products.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong

              Although our local truck convoy seems to think it's because Trudeau is a gay Russian communist but it's also Biden's fault

            2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

              Re: Maybe we've got it all wrong

              I disagree.

              The price indicated on a screen has gone up. The cost may be unchanged. So I pump oil or gas in Canada. I need to get that to market. So I build pipelines, storage and distribution to get my product to customers.

              So I build KeystoneXL (or NordStream 2) to deliver product to my refinery customers in Texas & Illinois, and storage/distribution in Oklahoma. It's an expensive pipe to build, operate and litigate, but unless buyers collect, it's the only way to get product to market. But there's a finite practical market at the wholesale level. And to finance my pipe, I'd want contracts from refiners to cover costs & make some money. That's the effective price, ie governed by contract, not the number shown on a trader's screen.

              So if it's profitable at say $50bbl, it becomes very profitable at $150. Unless you're a small buyer getting product on the market via Cushing, in which case it's time to read ch.11.

              But then there's politics. So Obama said no to Keystone. Then Trump said yes. Then Biden says no, and seems confused that US pump prices have rocketed, and is trying to do deals with Venezuela to ship from there.

              Meanwhile, Keystone sits idle, yet capable of delivering 600Kbbl per day to US refiners. But that's the kind of insanity that occurs when environment trumps common sense. See also the Texas power cut last year. 'Renewables' suck for delivering cheap, reliable energy. Gas is much better. Gas pipelines neeed electricity for pumping stations. Not a problem, tap some gas, feed that to a turbine, and power your stuff. At least until regulators say that's ungreen, and you have to use electricity. Which then fails, which means no gas for big turbines, and people die.

              UK has much the same problem, ie lunatics running the asylum. We don't use much Russian oil or gas, but prices have rocketted for... reasons. Like we produce our own oil & gas for local consumption. Costs of that haven't really changed, only the potential export value. And the UK could be producing more, but politicians are clueless fuckwits. Fraccing is bad!

              Strangely, geothermal is green. Just look at the Eden Project in Cornwall. A 5km deep borehole into the hot Cornish rocks that can generate millions in subsidies. Also been in the news, if you can find it, for generating a 1.5 magnitude quake and loud bang. Just like fraccing! Also fun because unlike shale, Cornish granite is fairly radioactive, and geothermal plants recirculate water. Which means the 'green' Eden Project also needs licenses to manage radioactive materials & waste.

  13. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    Are they sitting on a pile of zero-day exploits though?

    You have to look at the zero-day exploit (ZDE) eco-system.

    Where do these exist, how are they discovered, by whom, and what happens to them?

    Each of these questions will feed into an understanding of how many unused exploits the Russian state is holding onto.

    Generally, critical ZDEs in operating systems, or in low-level OS components, such as device drivers, are finite in number. As they are found, they get patched out, and fixed, so that only unpatched systems are still vulnerable. Microsoft, for all their faults, much better these days at security than in the bad old days. This applies as much to other OS vendors. This means current OSs are built with security in mind, rather than as an afterthought, and have active mechanisms for patching flaws automatically when found (however annoying it is to turn on a laptop after 6 months and wait 2 hours for all the updates to install, it's better than being pwned). We can realistically expect the number of serious exploits in the wild to be lower now than, say, 5 years ago.

    As for who discovers ZDEs? Well, it used to be the odd, underfunded security researcher, and crooks. For the last 10 years or so, we can add nation states to this list, and for the last 5 years or so, bug bounty hunters. This means the discovery of such exploits is shared more thinly between more individuals, and more importantly, there is a group of individuals who have an incentive to find such bugs, and either disclose them for a cash bounty, or sell them to crooks, or nation states.

    So, what happens to ZDEs once they have been discovered? Anyone buying a ZDE from a bounty hunter and then sitting on that exploit and not using it is running the risk of someone else discovering, and disclosing it, and it being patched out. Then they've wasted their money. Thus, there is a definite pressure here for any black-hatters who buy exploits to weaponise and use them immediately before they can be patched. This applies equally well to nation states, who will also know that any bug that they pay a bounty for could just as easily also be sold to criminals, or turned in for a bounty, for example to an OS vendor. The nation-state who had paid for this exploit would have little way of knowing whether the person who had sold them the exploit had also sold it elsewhere, or whether someone else had, when they discover that the exploit is out in the wild.

    For these reasons, state actors like Russia are quite likely to be paying people directly to find the exploits, rather than buying them or offering bounties. It therefore comes down to how many people you can throw at the job, and how much you pay them. If they can earn more independently from bounties, you won't be getting the best people, and you won't be getting exploits that can't be just as easily be found by an amateur bug hunter.

    This all leads me to think that nation-state discovery of zero-day exploits is both expensive and time-consuming, and that, when found, those exploits have a limited lifespan before being worthless. Maybe the Russian hackers have just cashed in all their ZDEs already, on ransomware cash grabs so they can gild another corridor in the Kremlin?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: Are they sitting on a pile of zero-day exploits though?

      ZDE's also have limited usefulness As well as having a shelf life, usage obviously increases the risk of detection, and then countering. Plus potential embarrassment, eg the detection of Pegasus. Or suppose you've got a a ZDE that can take down an electricity grid. You may be able to do that once. Especially if your target views that as a hostile act.

  14. Marty McFly Silver badge

    "Independence Day" movie quote...

    David Levinson: It's like in chess: First, you strategically position your pieces and when the timing is right you strike.

    Just because we haven't seen any attacks yet doesn't mean our systems are not being nation-state penetrated in preparation for an attack. SunBurst was a multi-year effort before the industry spotted it. The Colonial Pipeline shutdown had a massive consumer impact. Add those together, multiply by an unknown X factor, and put Putin's finger on the trigger.

    That is your dose of FUD for the day. Stay safe.

    1. Clausewitz 4.0 Bronze badge

      Re: "Independence Day" movie quote...

      Colonial Pipeline was common hood blokes doing their daily penerration test.

      If it was the Army or Intelligence, you would expect SCADA software implants. Then, explosions or a better job.

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: "Independence Day" movie quote...

      I've always found that a good strategy in chess is to position your pieces to be defensively strong and then to take advantage when your opponent overstretches themselves, for example, by getting a rook or your queen into their back line.

      The analogy here is that Putin has overstretched himself in Ukraine. His supply lines are weak and stretched, and pretty much all his pieces are pawns (large numbers of conscript soldiers). He has already made a couple of unforced errors and lost some high-value pieces (reports of several high ranking officers being killed) which is the equivalent of sacrificing a bishop or knight for no positional advantage.

      His pawns are now exposed (those conscripts again, freezing or starving to death in a traffic jam of uninsulated tanks 30 miles outside Kyiv), and reports are that strategic targets, such as missile launchers, A-A launchers and artillery pieces are easily being picked off by inexpensive and flexible Ukrainian bomb-carrying drones.

      Putin may have started off with the advantage of metaphorically having many more pieces on the board, but he's losing because he has one king and 100,000 pawns, and Ukraine has 1,000 knights.

      To paraphrase Gary Kasparov, when asked what sort of chess game Putin plays; Putin doesn't play chess, he plays poker.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So much wrong with this.

    Ok, most of us work in the IT/Tech/Infosec world so for those of us with a meditative bent, let's take a step back, take a deep breath, and try to think about this from someone else's perspective for a change.

    Massive "Cyberwar" is not happening now, because it is does not make sense at any level. It is riding a cloud of FUD and hype so it is all over the media, FUD our industry has been profitably selling to people for some time.

    The people running the war on both sides aren't hackers, they are cold political operators, military personnel, and intelligence operators. That means whatever the hacking crews from either side are sitting on, they are taking orders, not giving them, and whatever targets they hit, someone else is calling the shots at the end of the day.

    The Russians aren't going to be keen on mass operations against NATO, the US or EU because they desperately cannot afford the ongoing escalation of response from the west. So the Russians are going to be sitting on their hands to avoid tipping the response in favor NATO or the EU becoming an direct participant. The proxy war is already more than they were betting on.

    They may tackle individual targets, but the reality of Infosec is that attacks are 99.95% opportunistic and attacking an arbitrary target is difficult or impossible in addition to time consuming if you aren't lucky enough to catch break and discover a mistake they made.

    This also informs why warfighters don't tend to rely on such methods. If a commander (US or them) wants(for example) the power to any given building cut, "cyberwarfare" is the least reliable and possibly the slowest of may options to do so. And cutting lose a "Cyber Army" on your opponents will cause chaos, which most leaders want to avoid if they can't tightly control it. So since the people in charge on all sides are old cold warriors, generals, and military strategists like so many other wars in recent times, the "Cyberweapons" will mostly be sitting on the side lines, while generals dream of medals for their branches signature mode of dealing damage(bombs, tanks, naval warfare). Skilled operators will probably be spending more time assisting intelligence agencies than crashing power plants, and while the run of the mill defacements have some propaganda value, they won't have much impact on the actual fight.

    A defaced ATM machine or gas pump has yet to stop a tank, shoot down a rocket, or raise a bomb back into the sky. Though that said the Russians do seem worried about finding gas at the moment, that seems mostly due an excess of bullet holes in fuel trucks.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: So much wrong with this.

      >A defaced ATM machine or gas pump has yet to stop a tank

      No but an exploded gas pipeline or oil refinery does.

      The real danger is that a genuine accident gets blamed on a US cyberattack/

      Do you want to admit to Putin that you had been skimming money from maintenance for years when you can be the heroic patriotic victim of an attack by the evil capitalists ?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: So much wrong with this.

        Yeah, the "cover up your own faceplant thing" could totally happen, and cause really havoc depending on the target.

        The other issue is that while cyber attacks may be terrible at taking down an arbitrary target, if you go looking around you will find plenty of things to hit "to whom it may concern" style. If a big player or a key piece of infrastructure slips up, an attack could totally wipe them out.

        Image what could have happened if the Sony hack was taking place now in our current environment, and instead of ransomware they just pulled the pin with wipers from the get go. So infosec matters and there is a real threat there. It just isn't a big part of the machinery of modern warfare at this point.

        Right now more of that seems to heading into Russia instead of coming out of it, but that could change and make for some interesting reading around here.

        I for one do not wish to participate in that kind of excitement at work. I'll find other ways to stay entertained thank you very much.

  16. martinusher Silver badge

    The role of private enterprise

    Our leaders like to give the impression that 'the other' -- Russians in this case -- are some kind of monolithic hive mind that mechanically follows the Leader's will. Its good copy but it flies in the face of common sense and reason. I'd suggest that the explanation for cyber attacks emanating from this part of the world -- Russia and Ukraine -- isn't some dastardly plot by the Kremlin or whatever but rather is a consequence of a rather anarchic attitude to life by people in this area. They're over-educated, they're underpaid, they've got long, awful, winters and they've got Internet access. They've also got a hit and miss police force (that is also a bit underpaid) that tends to be 'flexible'. A perfect storm for malware. Now with Internet access dislocated, currency and bitcoin exchanges messed up and people looking its probably not a good idea to stick out -- better to lay low and wait for happier times.

  17. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Nobody knows what they have

    Say you have amazing infrastructure attacks lined up. You've secretly hacked the whole power grid. You're going to open all the switches, change the power plant frequencies a little bit, then force the switches closed again. The harmonics would blow up transformers and hit breakers with power they can't interrupt. Maybe you've hacked sewage processing to vent chlorine gas. Maybe hack oil refineries to catch fire for good show.

    Any of that would be an unambiguous declaration of war. Will it send your enemy into the dark ages? Maybe there are mechanical checks that can't be seen online. Maybe a bunch of system operators say, "That's not right!" and hit the big red button before anything happens. You've just started your war with your most devastating blow being a two day technical inconvenience. The BOFHs are coming.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Nobody knows what they have

      Back in the day, before any of you iPhone users were born, the CIA did something similar to the USSR.

      They released stories that they had "hacked" chips begin sold to the USSR to cause various pipeline explosions. It wasn't true of course - it's hard to hide a rootkit in a 8008.

      The USSR would deny it, Gulag some 'counter-revolutionary saboteur' maintenance worker and get ultra-paranoid about their entire infrastructure - which was the whole point of the exercise. And the US would do a "you might think so, I cannot possibly comment".

      So tomorrow when a seized Aeroflot Airbus that has had no proper maintenance falls out of the sky - are the Russians going to blame their own incompetence or point at western backed cyber-attacks that we have all been proclaiming ?

  18. pitrh

    We did see a marked increase in ssh password groping just before the invasion

    I tend to agree with the general direction of the article. Whatever the .ru side is attempting they appear to come up rather short when it comes to tangible results.

    That said, we did see a marked increase in some kinds of malicious-but-stupid traffic just before the invasion.

    My field notes with a slightly sensational headline can be found at with a few updates since the original publication.

  19. A_Melbourne

    "I'm sure that Putin thought the war would be all over except for the mopping up by now."

    Unlike the Americans, the Russians are trying to avoid civilian casualties. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian army is hiding in the cities among civilians - the part that has not been surrounded in the east.

    In the next few weeks, those in these "cauldrons" will be encouraged to surrender. They would have surrendered some time ago if not for the Nazi groups embedded in each unit. The Nazis know what fate awaits them, they kill any deserter.

    I suggest you forget about the lies of the MSM. Today, the London Times finally hinted at the entrapment of most of the Ukrainian army. Something that was being reported elsewhere a week ago.

    Oh what's the use? You guys know nothing about East Europe. The brave Brits and Yanks beat the Nazis in WW2. LOL

  20. toffer99

    Terrific piece. Thank you.

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