A Russian IT worker accused of participating in pro-Ukraine denial of service attacks against Russian government websites has been sentenced to three years in a penal colony and ordered to pay 800,000 rubles (about $10,000).
According to the state-owned TASS news agency, a Russian regional court handed down the sentence against Yevgeny Kotikov, who is said to have supported Kyiv during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. To this end he and others DDoSed government websites including those belonging to the Russian president and the country’s Ministry of Defense, we’re told.
These types of network-flooding takedowns have been extremely popular with both Russian and Ukrainian crews during the war as a means to block information resources and knock critical infrastructure websites offline.
They don’t require much technical know-how, and there’s a galaxy of open-source DDoS tools that hacktivists can use to flood organizations’ networks with junk traffic, making them relatively easy — albeit unsophisticated — for anyone to pull off. That said, this traffic can be traced to its sources, which may reveal the true origin and orchestrator of an assault.
Several security researchers have documented the rise of cyber-crime gangs whose preferred method of attack is DDoSing adversaries coinciding with the war.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) accused Kotikov of supporting Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s nation at the outset of the illegal invasion, which began in February 2022. He allegedly used his personal computer for these DDoS floods.
“Officers of the Federal Security Service of Russia in the Rostov Region documented and stopped the criminal activities of an IT specialist involved in a computer DDoS attack organized by the Ukrainian side on the information systems of subjects of the critical information infrastructure of the Russian Federation,” the FSB said in a statement, according to the TASS report.
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“Kotikov was found guilty by the Rostov Regional Court … [and] sentenced to imprisonment for a period of three years with a sentence to be served in a colony-settlement, with a fine in the state revenue in the amount of 800 thousand rubles,” the statement continued.
Colony settlements are essentially labor camps, which make up the majority of Russia’s prison system. It’s not anywhere you’d choose to spend three years. The report doesn’t name the penal colony where Kotikov will be imprisoned nor give any indication about how strict that modern-day gulag is.
Russian hacktivists, of course, have also launched more than their share of DDoS attacks against Ukraine and other countries that have supported Kyiv in its war efforts.
On Thursday, several Polish news sites were hit by floods of junk traffic. The country’s Minister of Cyber Security said Russian hackers were likely responsible. “We have such information,” Janusz Cieszynski told Poland’s state-run news agency when asked if Russia was behind the DDoS attacks. ®