The popular Twitter account named “Anonymous” declared that the activist group was waging a “cyber war” against Russia.

Since this declaration, the account, which has more than 7.9 million followers has claimed responsibility for disabling important Russian government, news and corporate websites and leaking data from the federal agency responsible for censoring Russian media.

How can we know if any of these claims are true?

Jeremiah Fowler, a co-founder of the cybersecurity company Security Discovery, worked with researchers at the web company Website Planet to attempt to verify the group’s claims. In a report summarizing the findings, Mr. Fowler wrote that some high-value targets in the Russian Federations are confirmed to have been penetrated by a “very capable group”. Among the hacked targets are 92 compromised databases of Russian retailers, internet providers, and intergovernmental websites, including the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS, an organization made up of Russia and other former Soviet nations that was created in 1991 following the fall of the Soviet Union.

According to Fawler, the investigated attacks had “had no purpose except for a malicious script that wiped out data and renamed all the files.”.

As to whether this was the work of Anonymous, Fowler said he followed Anonymous’ claims “and the timeline matches perfect,” he said.

As a response to the attacks, a pro-Russian group said it shut down Anonymous’ website. As there is no real official Anonymous website, this response seems to serve more as a morale booster for the pro-Russian side.

Cheering for the Hacktivists

Legally speaking, Hacktivists who conduct offensive cyber warfare-like activities without government authority are engaging in criminal acts.

Despite this, many social media users are cheering Anonymous’ efforts on, with many posts receiving thousands of likes and messages of support.

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