Detained Russian student allegedly helped Ukrainian hackers with cyberattacks

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A Russian tech student could face treason charges for helping Ukrainian hackers carry out cyberattacks against Russia.

A resident of the Siberian city of Tomsk, Seymour Israfilov was detained by Russian security services (FSB) in October, but little information was given about him and his alleged crime at the time of his arrest.

The FSB only revealed that the suspect holds “pro-Ukrainian views” and helped Ukrainian hacker groups “supported by the country’s law enforcement” carry out cyberattacks on Russian information infrastructure.

This week, Russian media revealed his identity, saying that an 18-year-old student at a radioelectronics university in Tomsk reportedly worked for a Ukrainian hacker group known as Cyber Anarchy Squad. He allegedly carried out cyberattacks on local authorities and universities.

The group hasn’t directly confirmed the attribution but commented on the article, saying that the mentioned student “is doing more” than the majority of Russians.

“Follow his example,” the hackers said. “Behind every [online] resource in Russia there is a person who is responsible for it and supports it. Even the smallest and imperceptible intervention will have its effect.”

According to video footage shared with Russian media, on the day of the arrest Israfilov was accompanied by FSB officers onto a plane and was transported to a detention center in Moscow. His apartment was also searched and all his devices were inspected.

If found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison on charges of treason.

Such arrests are common in Russia. In another case in October, a Russian citizen from the Siberian town of Belovo was arrested for supposedly joining Ukrainian cyber forces to execute cyberattacks on critical Russian infrastructure. The FSB detained him, forcibly knocking him to the ground on the street, handcuffing him and placing him in a car.

Last year, three residents of the Russian city Rostov-on-Don were sentenced to prison or fined for carrying out distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against Russian sites.

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Daryna Antoniuk
is a freelance reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.

 

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