Belarus Hackers Seek to Overthrow Government, release huge trove of sensitive data

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The Belarusian Cyber Partisans, as the hackers call themselves, have in recent weeks released portions of a huge data trove they say includes some of the country’s most secret police and government databases. The information contains lists of alleged police informants, personal information about top government officials and spies, video footage gathered from police drones and detention centers and secret recordings of phone calls from a government wiretapping system, according to interviews with the hackers and documents reviewed by Bloomberg News.

relates to Hackers Release Data Trove From Belarus in Bid to Overthrow Lukashenko Regime
A screenshot of footage the hackers obtained from inside Belarusian detention centers where protesters were held and allegedly beaten.
Source: Belarusian Cyber Partisans

Among the pilfered documents are personal details about Lukashenko’s inner circle and intelligence officers. In addition, there are mortality statistics indicating that thousands more people in Belarus died from Covid-19 than the government has publicly acknowledged, the documents suggest.

In an interview and on social media, the hackers said they also sabotaged more than 240 surveillance cameras in Belarus and are preparing to shut down government computers with malicious software named X-App.

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the data exposed by the Cyber Partisans showed “that officials knew they were targeting innocent people and used extra force with no reason.” As a result, he said, “more people are starting to not believe in propaganda” from state media outlets, which suppressed images of police violence during anti-government demonstrations last year.

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The hackers have teamed up with a group named BYPOL, created by former Belarusian police officers, who defected following the disputed election of Lukashenko last year. Mass demonstrations followed the election, and some police officers were accused of torturing and beating hundreds of citizens in a brutal crackdown.

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The wiretapped phone recordings obtained by the hackers revealed that Belarus’s interior ministry was spying on a wide range of people, including police officers—both senior and rank-and-file—as well as officials working with the prosecutor general, according to Azarau. The recordings also offer audio evidence of police commanders ordering violence against protesters, he said.

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Earlier this year, an affiliate of the group obtained physical access to a Belarus government facility and broke into the computer network while inside, the spokesman said. That laid the groundwork for the group to later gain further access, compromising some of the ministry’s most sensitive databases, he said. The stolen material includes the archive of secretly recorded phone conversations, which amounts to between 1 million and 2 million minutes of audio, according to the spokesman.

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The hackers joined together in September 2020, after the disputed election. Their initial actions were small and symbolic, according to screenshots viewed by Bloomberg News. They hacked state news websites and inserted videos showing scenes of police brutality. They compromised a police “most wanted” list, adding the names of Lukashenko and his former interior minister, Yury Karayeu, to the list. And they defaced government websites with the red and white national flags favored by protesters over the official Belarusian red and green flag.

Those initial breaches attracted other hackers to the Cyber Partisans’ cause, and as it has grown, the group has become bolder with the scope of its intrusions. The spokesman said its aims are to protect the sovereignty and independence of Belarus and ultimately to remove Lukashenko from power.

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Names and addresses of government officials and alleged informants obtained by the hackers have been shared with Belarusian websites, including Blackmap.org, that seek to “name and shame” people cooperating with the regime and its efforts to suppress peaceful protests, according to Viačorka and the websites themselves.

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Source: Belarus Hackers Seek to Overthrow Local Government – Bloomberg

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