At least for several minutes, thousands of Russians felt what millions of Ukrainians experience every day. Radio stations across multiple Russian cities were hacked this Wednesday and blasted fake air raid warnings.
As reported by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, the air raid alerts were heard in Belgorod, Kazan, Novosibirsk, Penza, Magnitogorsk, Ufa, Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod, Tyumen, Izhevsk, and other cities.
Multiple radio stations were hacked, including Relax FM, Humor FM, Business FM, Like FM, Comedy FM, Romantika, Avtoradio, Radio Energy, and Children's Radio. Several videos from cars where radios are blasting the warning were shared on social media.
According to RIA Novosti, many of the stations were part of Gazprom Media. It obviously offers an explanation how the hackers managed to coordinate multiple broadcasts of a fake air raid warning at about the same time.
Russian local officials in Belgorod called the incident "a provocation by supporters of the Kyiv regime,” Kommersant reported. They also alleged the goal was to sow panic among residents.
The Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations soon confirmed the hack in a Telegram post, but it did not share any information on the attack or any attribution.
This is actually not the first time suspected Ukrainian hackers have hacked Russian radio stations or breached other systems in Russia. In June 2022, one such hacker hijacked Kommersant FM radio to blast the Ukrainian anthem and anti-war songs.
This forced the company to temporarily shut down its air programming and broadcast solely via the internet for a few hours.
Two months later, in August 2022, Ukrainian hackers hijacked security cameras across the occupied Crimea and Donbas regions to play patriotic Ukrainian music on Ukraine's Independence Day.
Not long after the beginning of the full-scale war in February 2022, Kyiv mobilized the Ukrainian IT army of hacktivists. They have executed a number of small-scale attacks, although the success of its operations is open to debate.
On the other hand, the Russians, once thought to be a superpower in cyber warfare, have not been able to hit Ukraine’s networks as hard as has been done by kinetic means since the war started. Experts explain this by giving credit to Ukraine’s resilience, high level of attention to cyber defense, and Western support.
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