A hacker group is trying to overthrow the Lukashenko regime in Belarus

A hacker group is trying to overthrow the Lukashenko regime in Belarus

The activists call themselves Belarus Cyber ​​Partisans and have been infiltrating government websites and databases for months to spread information about police abuse and repression

Photo: Mikhail Svetlov / Getty Images Protests that broke out in Belarus last year They have not yet had the hoped-for outcome of overthrowing the authoritarian government of President Alexander Lukashenko, in office since the creation of the role in 1994, and also thanks to the violent repression of the state they have cooled down, but they have not subsided. The streets of Minsk are no longer crowded with demonstrators as in the autumn of 2020, but there are now "cyber-partisans" fighting for the freedom of the Belarusian population.

Belarus Cyber ​​Partisans is the name is given a group of 15 information technology (It) and cybersecurity experts who work in the country's thriving technology sector and who for some months have been exploiting their skills to infiltrate government sites, extract information and sabotage the surveillance operations of security forces. "What we want is to stop the violence and repression of the terrorist regime in Belarus and bring the country back to democratic principles and the rule of law," a spokesperson for the group told the MIT Technology Review, who requested the anonymous for reasons of security.

The first operations

The group began taking action against some government websites as an act of protest last September, following the disputed elections in Country that confirmed Lukashenko as president. The president was accused of fraud. In response, for example, Belarus Cyber ​​Partisans broke into government-controlled news sites and posted videos showing scenes of acts of violence perpetrated by police officers.

The breakthrough in cyber warfare came thanks to the support of another civil resistance group, called Bypol, which brings together former police officers who quit their jobs after protests began and now they deal with counter-information. Bypol has instructed activists on how to infiltrate government organizations and the structure of public databases, in exchange for information about the regime's abuses.

Cyber ​​Partisans hacktivists post the information they get on a Telegram channel, where they have 77 thousand subscribers. So far they have revealed evidence of police crimes, information showing the regime has covered the true death rate from Covid-19, and recordings of orders to crack down on peaceful protests in a violent way. Activists also claim they managed to hack dozens of government and police databases.

Latest Findings

Their most recent operations have allowed activists to access footage of the drones they recorded government crackdowns on protesters in the square last year and the Interior Ministry's database of spied cell phones. They also had access to audio recordings from emergency services, as well as video from road surveillance cameras and solitary confinement cells.

Data released by the group in recent weeks includes lists of suspected police informants, personal information on senior officials and spies who collaborate with the Lukashenko regime, footage of detention centers and recordings captured by the government's interception system.

Images from surveillance cameras of a Belarusian detention center. Photo: from Telegram channel of Belarus Cyber ​​partisans The Cyber ​​Partisans say their intention is to undermine the regime at all levels: “Paralyze the regime's security forces as much as possible, to sabotage the regime's weaknesses in infrastructure and provide protection to demonstrators ".

The operations also have a second aim, that of showing the weakness of the system, reassuring Lukashenko's opponents that the government is not invincible. With the aim, as Bloomberg reports, of bringing about the overthrow of the government.

Technology in Minsk

The Belarusian technology sector, which in a district of Minsk has dozens of companies and startups , was from the beginning among those most engaged in anti-government protests. Due to the repression, many of the workers were forced to emigrate or ended up in prison. The United Nations estimates that at least 27,000 people were arrested in Belarus last year in response to protests.

An international coalition of human rights organizations is currently investigating and documenting torture and other violations of human rights committed since the beginning of the protests to incriminate the Lukashenko regime. The audio and video evidence extrapolated by the Cyber ​​Partisans could have significant weight.

The precedents

That of Belarus is the latest case of hacktivist engagement in political battles. During the Arab Spring of 2011, the Anonymous collective took some government sites in Tunisia and Egypt offline. In 2016 in Ukraine a group that presents itself as the Cyber ​​Alliance was formed to counter Russian aggression in the country.

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