Hackers compromised a railway system’s routing and switching devices and rendered them inoperable by encrypting them to stop Russian soldiers

A hacktivist operation in Belarus would have managed to compromise the computer systems that control the country’s railway infrastructure in an effort to stop the advance of Russian troops into Ukrainian territory. Identified as Cyber Partisans, the hackers claim to have disrupted the operations of some trains in local cities such as Minks, Orsha and Osipovichi.

In its plans to take the city of Kiev as quickly as possible, the Russian army has used Belarus as a shorter access point to Ukrainian territory, employing the Belarusian railway system. In the face of this and other military tactics, groups of technology professionals and others with computer expertise have teamed up on social media to identify Russian websites and officials who could be targets of cyberattacks.

While it has been confirmed that some trains in these cities have not been able to operate conventionally, so far it has not been possible to verify if this is due to the actions of the hacktivist group.

Through a Telegram channel, an alleged former worker of the Belarusian railway system confirmed to his subscribers that the train systems in Minsk and Orsha are almost completely paralyzed, reports that have been replicated in other online forums. So far, no representative of the Belarusian government has made statements on the matter.

For their part, Cyber Partisans hackers claim that the purpose of the attack was to slow the advance of Russian troops traveling from military bases in Belarus to northern Ukraine, which would allow the Ukrainian government to prepare the defense of its territory with more time. Cyber Partisans notes that the trains were put into “manual mode,” which would significantly delay progress.

In early 2022, the hacktivism group claimed to have attacked Belarusian Railway’s systems, encrypting most of the company’s servers, databases and workstations. Cyber Partisans has been involved in the attack by multiple Belarusian government and police agencies over the past few months, including the well-known leak of thousands of police records and images collected by police drones, detention centers and phone recordings related to police investigations.

To learn more about information security risks, malware variants, vulnerabilities and information technologies, feel free to access the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) websites.