One the foremost pro-Russian hacktivist groups, Killnet, has drawn some fairly ostentatious supporters, with jewelry and music produced in its honor, cyber pundit Radware claims.
The hacker collective became notorious last year for launching distributed denial of service attacks – essentially armies of hijacked computers remotely controlled by a threat actor and used to disable target systems – against any entities perceived as opposed to Russia.
The growth of such partisan groups since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year has not gone undocumented, while collectives like Anonymous publicly opposing Russia.
But now Radware researcher Daniel Smith claims that Killnet’s efforts are being funded by some colorful sources – namely, artists and jewelers.
Russian rapper Kazhe Oboyma released a controversial track in 2022 called KillnetFlow (Anonymous diss) – as the double-barrelled song title suggests, it was in support of Russia and against its enemies.
“This is a prime example of how even art and entertainment can provide community support to criminal organizations,” wrote Smith.
Killnet’s bling supporters
Nor is this an isolated instance, he adds, citing Killnet’s recent collaboration with Moscow-based jeweler HooliganZ, which released a line of Killnet-themed rings and other articles, donating half the proceeds of sales to the hacktivist group.
“The statement made it clear that HooliganZ will continue to support Killnet operations now and in the future,” said Smith. “These items, such as clothing, accessories, and collectibles, feature group logos, slogans and catchphrases, and [are] sold to individuals who identify with the group’s ideology or mission. The sale of branded merchandise serves as a form of propaganda, helping to recruit new members and promote the group’s cause.”
Other threat actors are also pitching in to help Killnet, he added. Dark web forum Solaris has been linked by cyber watchers to the partisan group, and, citing Elliptic Connect, Smith says it has shown itself willing to put its money where its mouth is – to the tune of $44,000 in Bitcoin donations.
Huge funding potential
And given the huge illicit earnings dark web marketplaces like Solaris can amass, this is just a drop in the ocean of potential funding groups like Killnet might stand to enjoy, warns Smith.
“The fact that Solaris provided financial support to Killnet demonstrates the potential for these underground marketplaces, which make hundreds of millions of dollars a year [...] to raise funds,” he wrote.
“This is not new, as dark-net marketplaces have been used to launder money and fund illegal activities. However, this specific instance of Solaris’ support of Killnet provides insight into the potential for these marketplaces to fund criminal organizations directly and what the future threat landscape may look like.”
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