Cyberwarfare / Nation-State Attacks , Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Social Media

Ukrainian Police Shutter Propaganda-Spreading Bot Farm

Bot Accounts Also Used to Illegally Distribute Ukrainians' Personal Data
Ukrainian Police Shutter Propaganda-Spreading Bot Farm
Image: Cyber Police of Ukraine

Ukrainian law enforcement dismantled yet another bot farm spreading Russian propaganda over social media.

See Also: Cisco Umbrella for Government: Helping Agencies Meet Their Enhanced Cybersecurity Mandates and TIC3.0 Standards

The Ukrainian Cyber Police raided 21 locations across the country and seized computer equipment, mobile phones and more than 250 GSM gateways, including 150,000 SIM cards of different mobile operators used in the illicit activities to create fake social media profiles.

"The cyber police established that the attackers used special equipment and software to register thousands of bot accounts in various social networks and subsequently launch advertisements that violated the norms and legislation of Ukraine," according to a statement by the Ukrainian law enforcement agency.

Ukrainian authorities hold a news conference and unveil seized assets from the bot farms.

The latest investigation discovered bots using fake accounts to conduct informational and psychological operations promoting pro-Russian sentiment and sharing personal data of Ukrainian citizens to conduct internet fraud, spread fake messages regarding security threats to Ukrainian citizens, and destroy or damage property, authorities said.

The operations involved over 100 individuals from Vinnytsia, Zaporizhzhia and Lviv regions of Ukraine.

The latest takedown is attributed to a broader police operation dubbed Botofarm. The first crackdown by the Ukrainian police under this operation was executed in December 2022, when over a dozen active bot farms spreading Russian propaganda through more than 1.5 million fake accounts were seized (see: Ukraine Takes Down Domestic Pro-Kremlin Bot Farms).

Russia has historically used bot farms to spread propaganda and create panic during the war, but Ukrainian law enforcement has cracked down on them, In May 2023, it seized more than half a dozen bot farms and a virtual private network infrastructure that was spreading disinformation and fake Russian propaganda (see: Ukrainian Forces Shutter Bot Farms and Illicit VPN Provider).

About the Author

Mihir Bagwe

Mihir Bagwe

Principal Correspondent, Global News Desk, ISMG

Bagwe previously worked at CISO magazine, reporting the latest cybersecurity news and trends and interviewing cybersecurity subject matter experts.

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