‘Anonymous’ Hacks Printers Across Russia To Debunk Putin Lies

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The hacker collective known as Anonymous has reportedly hacked printers across Russia, using the devices to spread the truth to Russian citizens regarding the ongoing war in Ukraine, where Putin’s forces recently invaded and have been inflicting devastation ever since. One account on Twitter apparently associated with the collective stated: “We are #Anonymous. We have been printing [anti-propaganda] and tor installation instructions to printers all over #Russia for 2 hours, and printed 100,000+ copies so far. 15 people working on this op as we speak.” That post went up on Sunday, at just after 5 p.m. Eastern Time. As explained by the International Business Times, “The Onion Router or simply tor is free, open-source software that allows anonymous communication.” That means that users can have assistance via the software with overcoming Russian government censorship.

According to that same outlet, one of the hackers behind the new effort “explained that the operation included PDFs printed on the hacked printers with a message telling Russians that its president, Kremlin and Russian media have lied to them.” This occasion is not the first time that the group has been tied to virtual operations responding to the Ukraine conflict. The Guardian reported back in February, shortly after the war began, that Anonymous “claimed credit for several cyber incidents including distributed denial of service attacks – where a site is rendered unreachable by being bombarded with traffic – that have brought down [Russian] government websites and that of Russia Today, the state-backed news service.” Anonymous “also said it had hacked [Russia’s] Ministry of Defence database, while on [February 26] it was claimed the group had hacked Russian state TV channels, posting pro-Ukraine content including patriotic songs and images from the invasion,” per the same outlet.

An account on Twitter identified by The Guardian as associated with the group more recently stated that the “#Anonymous collective has sent 7.000.000 anti-war texts to Russian cell phone users to tell them the truth about Putin’s invasion of #Ukraine.” Putin’s regime in Russia enacted stiff penalties, including stints in jail of up to 15 years, for certain instances of spreading so-called fake news regarding the war in Ukraine, the true scope of which the Russian government refuses to acknowledge. Relatedly, access to outside information has been drastically curtailed — Russian residents can no longer even access Facebook, and Twitter has been at least sharply restricted if not outright banned in the country. Twitter said in late February that they were “aware that Twitter is being restricted for some people in Russia and are working to keep our service safe and accessible.” (That could’ve changed, meaning it could’ve been outright blocked since then.) Russian leaders have also been aggressive in their apprehensions of anti-war demonstrators around the country — since the war started, over 15,000 detentions have been recorded across Russia, including at least 936 arrests in 37 Russian cities just this past Sunday.