A suspected distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack downed several websites broadcasting President Putin’s state of the nation address on Tuesday, according to reports.
Reuters said journalists based in multiple locations were unable to access the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) website or the Smotrim live-streaming platform for periods during the speech.
It said the Smotrim site simply didn’t load, while VGTRK displayed an error message saying “technical works were being carried out.”
Although Reuters was unable to verify a DDoS as the cause, other sources did. The RIA Novosti news agency reportedly claimed malicious online actors were to blame, while a Twitter account linked to the IT Army of Ukraine confirmed the same.
“Great job! We launched a DDoS attack on channels showing Putin’s address to the federal assembly: 1TV, VGTRK and Smotrim,” it said in a post linking to official news on the incident. “Slava Ukraini.”
The IT Army is a hacktivist group founded at the start of the war after calls from Ukrainian vice prime minister, Mykhailo Fedorov, for supporters to help attack Russian targets. It selects these targets then publicizes them to a Telegram group.
The relative ease with which hacktivists can download DDoS-for-hire tools and services has made campaigns like this far easier to wage, although they rarely disrupt targets more than sporadically.
However, Russian hacktivists have also been busy – notably Killnet. The group has claimed responsibility for some fairly significant targets in the past year including 14 US airports, several Lithuanian and Japanese government websites, and US and Dutch hospitals.
Killnet ties to the Russian government are unconfirmed but likely.