Ukraine cops crack down on pro-Russian bot farm

Ukrainian police have seized computer equipment, mobile phones, and thousands of SIM cards after exposing more than 100 people suspected of running online propaganda and misinformation campaigns from the cities of Lviv, Vinnytsia, and Zaporizhzhia.

Cyber police in Ukraine believe the attackers used special equipment and software to register thousands of bot accounts across varying social networks so they could launch illegal content promoting Russia’s invasion.

The Cyber Police of Ukraine said Russian digital partisans “used fake accounts in social networks to conduct information and psychological operations of the aggressor, justify the actions of the occupiers, and distribute illegal content.”

As well as that, the police claim the Russian cyber agents also distributed personal data of targeted victims and ran online fraud campaigns.

“In addition to spreading hostile propaganda, the accounts were also used for unauthorized distribution of personal data of Ukrainian citizens on the internet, fraud schemes, and sending false messages about threats to citizens' safety, destruction or damage to property,” police said.

Thousands of SIM cards used in the disinformation campaign seized by police
Around 150,000 SIM cards used in the disinformation campaign were seized

The swoop saw more than 20 searches conducted, although it’s unclear precisely where these took place or if any arrests were made. The authorities in Ukraine say more than 100 people were involved.

The Cyber Police of Ukraine claim to have seized 150,000 SIM cards as well as closing 250 internet gateways it says were used in the propaganda campaign.

Bot farm busts are nothing new to Ukraine, which finds itself embroiled in an ongoing information cyberwar running parallel to the conventional conflict. Another bot network, also linked to the west-central city of Vinnytsia, was shut down by police last month.

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