Global Disinformation and Information Operations, Disinformation Diplomacy, Weaponized Ransomware, More: Ukraine Update, April 11, 2022


Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI): Understanding Global Disinformation and Information Operations: Insights from ASPI’s new analytic website. “ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre has launched the Understanding Global Disinformation and Information Operations website alongside this companion paper. The site provides a visual breakdown of the publically-available data from state-linked information operations on social media.”


ERR News: Yandex ban begins in Estonia on Monday. “Taxi drivers and taxi firms may not now use the Yandex [taxi] app (Yandex Pro) to fulfill orders. Internet Service Providers are also forbidden from carrying Yandex Pro and Yandex Go, while app stores in Estonia – Google Play, Apple’s App Store etc. – are ordered to bar downloading the Yandex app via their store, and must not provide updates to those who have already downloaded the app.”

CNN: Why Russia might struggle to maintain its digital iron curtain. “Rossgram’s apparent launch delays, and the dearth of other notable Russian Instagram rivals, offer a stark contrast to countries such as India, where a ban of Chinese apps, including TikTok, and government tensions with Twitter over the last couple of years quickly resulted in a host of local alternatives to those services. It also highlights the broader hurdles Russia’s technology sector has to overcome in order to build a self-contained internet that isn’t dependent on western platforms. The Russian government has been trying to make this break for years but that effort has been further accelerated by Russia’s war with Ukraine and the resulting exodus of, and crackdown on, US big tech companies.”


International Business Times: How Meta Fumbled Propaganda Moderation During Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine. “Days after the March 9 bombing of a maternity and children’s hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol, comments claiming the attack never happened began flooding the queues of workers moderating Facebook and Instagram content on behalf of the apps’ owner, Meta Platforms…. Online expressions of support for the mother-to-be quickly turned to attacks on her Instagram account, according to two contractors directly moderating content from the conflict on Facebook and Instagram.”

Financial Times: How Kyiv was saved by Ukrainian ingenuity as well as Russian blunders. “The Russian attempt to take Kyiv was defeated by a combination of factors including geography, the attackers’ blundering, Ukrainian ingenuity and modern arms — as well as smartphones: used for the first time in military history as weapons powerful in their own way as rockets and artillery.”

InformationWeek: Ukraine’s IT Pros Tell Their Stories of Bombing & Business Continuity. “Like many Ukrainians, the estimated 285,000 people working in the country’s IT sector were stunned when, on the morning of February 24, Russia launched a brutal attack on their country…. IT workers have stepped out from behind their desks, ferrying refugees to safety in the western part of the country or across the border, digging trenches, gathering supplies, and offering shelter. But they’ve done equally important work using their unique skill sets.”


The Conversation: Canada’s Russian embassy weaponizes social media to fuel support for the Ukraine invasion. “In order to curb the spread of disinformation by official Russian news sources, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) recently made a symbolic move by banning Russia’s state-run RT news channel in Canada. Yet this is an ineffective measure given the way social media channels controlled by the Russian Embassy in Ottawa are spreading disinformation, and how fact-checking is being weaponized by the Russian government to twist reality and confuse people about the war in Ukraine.”

TechCrunch: Microsoft seizes domains used by Russian spies to target Ukraine. “Microsoft has successfully seized domains used by APT28, a state-sponsored group operated by Russian military intelligence, to target institutions in Ukraine. The tech giant said in a blog post on Thursday that Strontium — Microsoft’s moniker for APT28 or ‘Fancy Bear,’ a hacking group linked to Russia’s GRU — used the domains to target multiple Ukrainian institutions, including media organizations, as well as government institutions and think tanks involved in foreign policy in the U.S. and Europe.”

WIRED: How Russia’s Invasion Triggered a US Crackdown on Its Hackers. “SINCE RUSSIA LAUNCHED its full-blown invasion of Ukraine in late February, a wave of predictable cyberattacks has accompanied that offensive, striking everything from Ukrainian government agencies to satellite networks, with mixed results. Less expected, however, was the cyber counteroffensive from the US government—not in the form of retaliatory hacking, but in a broad collection of aggressive legal and policy moves designed to call out the Kremlin’s most brazen cyberattack groups, box them in, and even directly disrupt their hacking capabilities.”

Bleeping Computer: Hackers use Conti’s leaked ransomware to attack Russian companies. “While it is common to hear of ransomware attacks targeting companies and encrypting data, we rarely hear about Russian organizations getting attacked similarly. This lack of attacks is due to the general belief by Russian hackers that if they do not attack Russian interests, then the country’s law enforcement would turn a blind eye toward attacks on other countries. However, the tables have now turned, with a hacking group known as NB65 now targeting Russian organizations with ransomware attacks.”


ChannelNewAsia: Commentary: Why might pro-Russia disinformation about Ukraine war resonate in Singapore?. “One social media channel that has been particularly effective in amplifying Russia’s message has been Twitter, where official accounts held by Russian embassies and ministries have been found to coordinate posts and retweets to maximise the spread of disinformation. To get a sense of the spread and saliency of Russian disinformation in Southeast Asia, this article tracked two of Russia’s key disinformation narratives amongst English language tweets in two countries – Singapore and the Philippines – where English is spoken widely.”

Associated Press: Poland-Ukraine ties seen as target of Russian disinformation. “Polish and Ukrainian authorities have for years accused Russia of trying to provoke hostility between their neighboring nations as part of a broader effort to divide and destabilize the West — and the concerns have gained greater urgency since Russia invaded Ukraine.”

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