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Anonymous hacks Russian website, Linux terminal, and nearly ignites gas control system

Anonymous sabotaged industrial gas control system in Russian republic to 'turn into fireworks!'

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The opening of a gas outlet is set to be delayed. (Anonymous screenshot)

The opening of a gas outlet is set to be delayed. (Anonymous screenshot)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, decentralized international hacktivist collective Anonymous has hacked into a Russian website and Linux terminal and nearly triggered an explosion in an industrial gas control system.

On Saturday (Feb. 26), Anonymous hacked into the Center for the Protection of Monuments website for a second time in two days and uploaded a rogue page featuring the blue and yellow of the Ukrainian flag and containing a number of defacements, including screenshots of a Linux terminal in Russia and an industrial gas control system in North Ossetia, a republic within Russia. At the time of publication, the altered page was still online, but in the event it is removed, Anonymous has saved an archived version on the Web Archive.

The first image that appears is the Anonymous logo, immediately followed by an image of a Guy Fawkes mask. Next is a video that shows a defiant speech by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy uploaded on Friday (Feb. 25) in response to the invasion that began the previous day.

The collective then explains in bright blue text that it had hacked into a Russian Linux terminal and included a screenshot showing a similar defacement to that of the Center for the Protection of Monuments website. According to an Anonymous representative who contacted Taiwan News, they also accessed a gas control system in Nogir, North Ossetia.

Anonymous hacks Russian website, Linux terminal, and nearly ignites gas control system
Defaced Linux terminal. (Anonymous screenshot)

As can be seen in a series of 13 screenshots, the hacktivists had managed to access a gas control system in the southern Russian republic manufactured by the Italian firm Fornovo Gas. Anonymous stated that they had modified the dates on the system to "almost make its gas pressure become so high to turn into fireworks!"

Anonymous hacks Russian website, Linux terminal, and nearly ignites gas control system
Opening of gas outlet delayed. (Anonymous screenshot)

However, they pointed out that a "fast-acting human controller" had managed to override the settings manipulated by Anonymous and prevented a catastrophic failure. On the front end of the gas control software application, they added the following slogans in one column titled "E-mailing": "We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us."

In another column to the right, titled "SMS," the collective added several hashtags, including "SlavaUkraini, #OpRussia, Putin #EpikFAil, /r/opukraine." The latter is the location of a Reddit page listing Anonymous' latest attacks on Russia in its cyber war to retaliate for the invasion of Ukraine.

Anonymous hacks Russian website, Linux terminal, and nearly ignites gas control system
Anonymous slogans and hashtags added to interface. (Anonymous screenshot)

Amid proposed talks over Ukraine adopting a neutral stance, the hackers asserted that making Ukraine alone become neutral is not fair and instead called for the creation of a "neutral grouping" of countries "wedged between NATO and Russia" that would include Ukraine, Finland, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Moldova. This "neutral security belt" could serve as an alliance similar to NATO or the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the group argues, claiming such a grouping would act as a cordon sanitaire to "assuage Russia's fears without NATO losing its face."

In an embedded YouTube video, a hooded person wearing a Guy Fawkes mask demands a referendum to be held in Ukraine's Donbas region on its ultimate fate. The figure recommends the referendum be held on whether to "follow a peace protocol or hand over the territories of Donbas to a United Nations peacekeeper administration."

The spokesperson suggested that over time, a referendum could be held on whether the Donbas region would reunite with Ukraine "with Northern Irish style status," become an independent state, or join Russia. As for NATO troops in Bulgaria and Romania, they recommended the notion of reviving the Treaty on Open Skies to "help ensure that troop deployments are at tolerable levels to each other."

However, the video warned that if the situation continues to worsen in Ukraine, "we can take hostage industrial control systems." Pointing to Russia, the representative says that the "sole party to be blamed if we escalate on that will be the same one who started it in the very first place with troop buildups, childish threats, and waves of unreasonable ultimatums."