The hackers set up fake social-media accounts and posed as attractive women, the FT said.The hackers said the soldiers sent them pictures, which they geolocated and sent to the military.
Ukrainian hackers set up fake accounts of attractive women to trick Russian soldiers into sending them photos, which they located and passed to the Ukrainian military, the Financial Times reported.
Nikita Knysh, a 30-year-old IT professional from Kharkiv, told the FT that when Russia’s invasion began in february 2022 he wanted to use his hacking skills to help his country.
He recruited other hackers and founded a group nicknamed Hackyourmom, which now consists of 30 hackers from across the country, he told the FT.
Last month, he said they duped Russian soldiers in Melitopol by creating fake accounts and pretending to be attractive women on several social media platforms, including Telegram.
The hackers were able to get to know Russian soldiers and ultimately convince them to send photos of them on the front, Knysh told the FT.
“The Russians, they always want to fuck,” Knysh told the FT. “They send [a] lot of shit to ‘girls,’ to prove that they are warriors.”
Once the soldiers sent pictures, the hackers were able to identify that they had been taken from a remote Russian military base near occupied Melitopol in southern Ukraine, the FT reported.
They transferred the information over to Ukraine’s military, and several days later the base was attacked, Knysh told the FT
“My first thought was I am effective, I can help my country,” another team member on Hackyourmom, identified only as Maxim, told the FT. “Then, I realized, I want more of this I want to find more bases, again and again.”
The Ukrainian online news site Ukrainian Pravda reported last month that there was an explosion at a large Russian military base in Melitopol, citing its mayor, Ivan Fedorov.
Insider was unable to independently verify the hacker’s claims of involvement, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. The FT said Ukrainian officials declined to discuss hackers’ roles in the attack on that military base.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted an unprecedented cyber war, with hackers on both sides launching attacks.
At the beginning of the invasion, Ukraine’s digital minister asked civilians with digital talents to join the country’s IT army.
During Russia’s Victory Day military celebrations in May, major Russian television channels were hacked to display anti-war messages.
Knysh told the FT that his team had participated in other hacks, including leaking the databases of Russian military contractors and tricking Russian TV stations into playing news clips about Ukrainian civilian casualties.
“For me, this felt like combat,” Knysh told the FT. “With no money, with no brilliant software, and even no brilliant hacks you can use fraudsters, the dark web against your enemy.”