by Martin Fornusek
January 24, 2024
The Kyiv Independent
“Volunteer patriot” hackers of the BO Team launched a cyberattack against the Russian Far Eastern Research Center of Space Hydrometeorology “Planeta,” destroying its database and expensive equipment, Ukraine’s military intelligence agency (HUR) said on Jan. 24.
Cyberattacks are a common tool used by both sides of the Russia-Ukraine war. In one of the most devastating strikes, Russian hackers targeted Ukraine’s telecommunications provider, Kyivstar, causing communication outages nationwide last December.
Media reports on the cyberattack against the Russian space hydrometeorology center emerged already on Jan. 23.
Ukraine’s military intelligence agency now confirmed the reports, saying that the hackers allegedly destroyed 280 servers and two petabytes of data.
Some of the lost meteorological and satellite data was actively used by the Russian defense and emergency situations ministries, the Roscosmos space agency, and other governmental departments, according to the military intelligence agency. The center reportedly provides data to over 50 state entities.
The center also lost a digital array worth at least $10 million, the agency said. The attack further destroyed the software of the center’s supercomputers, each worth $350,000, effectively disabling them beyond repair.
Next to the lost data and equipment, the hackers also allegedly disabled the station’s air conditioning and humidification systems, as well as the regulation of emergency power supply.
The attack is also said to have cut off a Russian Arctic station on the Bolshevik Island, carrying out “important tasks in the military sphere.”
“In summary, dozens of strategic companies of the Russian Federation, working in ‘defense’ and playing a key role in supporting Russian occupation forces, will remain without critically important information and services for a long time,” the military intelligence agency said.
The research center lies in the Russian far-eastern city of Khabarovsk, positioned some 30 kilometers from the China-Russia border. Operated by the state-owned Roshydromet hydrometeorology agency, the far-eastern station is the largest of the research center’s three branches.
The center’s main activities include “receiving and processing data from Russian and foreign satellites,” according to its website. The website makes no mention of the reported cyberattack.