Threat Management

Cyber feud between Anonymous and Killnet groups unlikely to affect others

A demonstrator waves a flag of the hacking group known as “Anonymous” during The People’s Assembly Cost of Living Crisis protest on April 2, 2022. in London. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Anonymous "is officially in cyber war against the pro-Russian hacker group [Killnet]," the largest Twitter account representing the hacker collective announced Saturday. It follows Killnet announcing it was at war with Annonymous two months earlier. The level of fascination is high. The risk of spillover affecting your organization is low.

You could bill this as a fight between high-profile citizen cyber warfare groups backing opposite sides of a kinetic conflict. But in practice, in the context of huge beasts of war causing geopolitical strife and the risk of spillover, "Brainy Smurf and Handy Smurf are getting into a fight," said Allan Liska, an analyst with Recorded Future.

The risk of an escalating conflict between the two groups affecting the outside world is minimal, said Liska, as neither group has had much disruptive impact during the conflict affecting the outside world by attacking it directly.

The declaration of conflict made it as far as the mainstream media.

The two groups are no strangers to headlines. The Anonymous brand name was built through high-profile protests, though it has declined in the hierarchy of threats for most organizations since its heyday. Throughout the war in Ukraine, Anonymous took credit for nuisance attacks on Russian targets, including hack and leak operations involving its largest bank and an energy customs broker, reprogramming Russian media to show clips of the conflict, and DDoS operations against the country's space agency. Killnet briefly disrupted the Italian Senate servers and an automotive club with its own DDoS and failed at a high-profile attack on the Eurovision music contest.

Soon after declaring war, Anonymous successfully DDoSed the Killnet website.

"Compare what Anonymous and what Killnet are doing to what Conti has done in Costa Rica. When you want to talk about real damage, that is what cybercriminals are capable of doing. And Anonymous and Killnet aren't doing that," said Liska.

Joe Uchill

Joe is a senior reporter at SC Weekly, focused on policy issues. He previously covered cybersecurity for Axios, The Hill and the Christian Science Monitor’s short-lived Passcode website.

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