Moscow-affiliated hackers harass organizations that help Ukrainian refugees

23 March, 12:34 AM
Refugees from Ukraine in Berlin (Photo:REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke)

Refugees from Ukraine in Berlin (Photo:REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke)

In January, organizations working with Ukrainian refugees in Europe received a stream of emails with threats and false information, Bloomberg reported on March 22.

“Ukrainian men of military age, the emails warned, were scheduled to be rounded up and sent home,” the report reads.

“They would then be forced to fight against Russian troops, according to a supposed agreement between Ukraine and its allies. People who received the emails should immediately provide personal information and any known whereabouts of Ukrainians living nearby, the messages said.”

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These emails were false, with Latvian, Lithuanian, and Polish governments quickly issuing a corresponding statement.

The messages were seemingly sent by the Ghostwriter group, which has spent years discrediting NATO and trying to undermine regional relations in Europe. Ghostwriter also hacked websites to publish fake news articles. The group posed as officials in alleged press releases and used fake letters to try to sow anti-Western sentiment.

“The goal, like with many other Ghostwriter operations, is to try to create panic and provoke fear,” said an independent expert in disinformation, Anneli Ahonen.

“The wider goal is to attempt to divide allies and disrupt their work.”

Security researchers in 2021 said they have high confidence in Ghostwriter's ties to Belarus, while the NATO Strategic Communications Center of Excellence said the Ghostwriter group is Russian. Last year, Facebook blocked fake videos from Ghostwriter that showed the surrender of Ukrainian soldiers to invading Russian troops.

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