A Ukrainian hacker’s tale of how he is aiding the land war by battling Russia for the cloud

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A Ukrainian hacker utilizing his notebook to struggle Russian disinformation and consider down propaganda bots amid an ongoing invasion of his homeland says his men and women are “a lot more united than at any time” as they confront off with a entire world power. 

When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine went from a hypothetical menace to a grim actuality on February 24th, Petro Tsymbalistyi, a web developer from Lviv, traveled with his wife Mariia and their two kids to the Polish border so they could wait out the conflict at a friend’s home in the neighboring place. 

Ukrainian hacker Petro Tsymbalistyi and his wife Mariia prior to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian hacker Petro Tsymbalistyi and his spouse Mariia prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
(Petro Tsymbalistyi)

Following waiting around 14 several hours in a 2.5-mile line of vehicles at the Ukraine-Poland border, Tsymbalistyi and his spouse and children began to see fathers walking back again toward home without having their wives or young children.  It was then they acquired that male citizens had been no extended permitted to cross the border out of Ukraine. 

“It was an psychological selection for us, but we decided to go again dwelling,” Tsymbalistyi informed WHD News Digital on his wife’s selection to keep with him in Ukraine. 

Following a tearful discussion, Petro and his spouse brought their young children to a risk-free locale with family members and returned to Lviv to actively guidance the resistance in opposition to Russia.  

“I want to explain it, how united we are as a state appropriate now. I feel we are so united due to the fact absolutely everyone is carrying out what they can.” 

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Instead than buying up an assault rifle to goal enemy troops, Tsymbalistyi has taken his fight to the arena he appreciates very best – the world-wide-web. 

“It’s a hybrid war,” Tsymbalistyi explained.  “I have a crew, and we’re accomplishing DDoS assaults,” he continued. 

DDoS stands for dispersed denial-of-assistance – a sort of online-primarily based attack that overwhelms servers with website traffic to knock them down. 

Tsymbalistyi recruited staff from his tech business Integer as properly as some of their international clients to type a crew of 12 and be part of up with the hundreds of hackers who make up Ukraine’s volunteer IT army. In addition to disabling Russian govt internet websites, Petro’s staff also works by using DDoS attacks to take out “Russian bots,” social media accounts he thinks are spreading disinformation on behalf of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s agenda, that are on preferred platforms like Telegram and Twitter.

Other than diluting Russia’s electronic messaging, the crew has also found opportunities to penetrate Putin’s notoriously ironclad hold on the dissemination of info inside of his personal borders by locating new techniques to explain to what Petro and his collaborators consider to be “the truth” – the story of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

Tsymbalistyi and his workforce publish photos and descriptions of blasts and skirmishes that have transpired over the very last week in remarks on popular YouTube movies and in assessments for heavily frequented Russian venues. In doing so, they have found a creative way to bypass the Kremlin and advise Russian citizens about the conflict. 

Petro's wife Mariia Tsymbalistyi hiding underground with their young son while Russia attacks Ukraine.

Petro’s wife Mariia Tsymbalistyi hiding underground with their younger son when Russia attacks Ukraine.
(Petro Tsymbalistyi)

The White Dwelling declared previously this thirty day period that U.S. intelligence obtained info that Russian chief Vladimir Putin planned to use bogus data to justify an invasion of Ukraine – which he launched final 7 days. Russian propaganda initiatives have blamed the invasion on Ukraine, claiming a military intervention there would cease an alleged “genocide” in ethnically Russian provinces, of which there is no proof. 


According to Graham Shellenberger, Director of the International Workforce at Miburo Remedies, a strategic examination and consulting business specializing in the countering of foreign malign influence around the world, these styles of efforts to existing conflicting information and facts to sectors of the inhabitants that Putin has targeted with messaging have been exceptionally powerful against the Russian president. 

“Ukraine is profitable the facts war palms down,” Shellenberger explained to WHD News Digital. 

In accordance to the propaganda expert, who also used decades as a psychological functions officer in the U.S. Military, the Russian model of messaging underneath Putin has usually aimed to “splinter” nations like Ukraine, as very well as western powers. But this time, it appears to be like his maneuvers make have backfired.  

Putin “has brought the European Union nearer with each other. He’s brought NATO nearer jointly. He’s introduced Ukraine nearer jointly,” Shellenberger explained. 

Although disinformation sourced again to Russia can be uncovered concentrating on populations all-around the world, Shellenberger suggests it nevertheless mainly aims to limit flexibility of the press and entry to information and facts inside Russia to make sure that little can obstacle the government’s prevailing line. 

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrive to meet at the 'Villa la Grange', in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.

President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin, arrive to meet at the ‘Villa la Grange’, in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021.
(Picture/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File Pool)

“Most of Russia’s propaganda and disinformation about Ukraine for the very last 8 a long time, but undoubtedly in the past few of months, is targeted on the Russian domestic population. That is their number just one concentrate on,” Shellenberger said. 

Shellenberger notes that a person of Ukraine’s most productive makes use of of conversation has been in shaping its own narrative in just the nation as well as beyond its borders, even if only a tiny proportion of it makes it to Russia. 

Selfie films of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy getting ready for struggle, as properly as unverified tales and video clips that perpetuate a particular “mythos” all over Ukraine’s resilience as an outnumbered armed forces, have largely contributed to the willpower of each day persons to coalesce close to the purpose of defeating Russia, according to Shellenberger. 

Whilst the Kremlin nonetheless has a firm grip on Russia itself, Shellenberger says time is Putin’s major enemy in the facts war, and Ukraine’s ongoing will to hold out and struggle is poor news for the former KGB agent.

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“The longer this goes, the tougher it will be for Putin to manage what is likely on, Shellenberger explained. “It is a lot easier to notify people it really is great right until the body luggage start off coming household.” 

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