Latest Victim of 'Hacktivists': Russia's Prison System

Per CNN, hackers angered by Navalny death say they stole prisoner database, altered commissary prices
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2024 6:58 AM CDT
Hackers Angered by Navalny Death Say They Stole Prison Database
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/gorodenkoff)

The death last month of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in a Russian penal colony shocked the world. It also apparently angered a bunch of anti-Kremlin hackers, who are now accused of swiping a Russian prisoner database in retaliation. CNN has the exclusive on this "stunning breach of security":

  • Photo hack: CNN reports that just hours after Navalny's death, the hackers—who say they're made up of various nationalities, including Ukrainians and Russian expats—used access they had to a network tied to Russia's prison system to upload a picture of Navalny to the prison contractor's website, along with the message "Long live [Alexei] Navalny!"

  • Database hack: The hackers also claim to have stolen a database that contains information on about 800,000 prisoners and their loved ones, including inmates at the remote penal colony where Navalny had been incarcerated. One alleged hacker tells CNN they're sharing that data "in the hope that somebody can contact them and help understand what happened to Navalny." The news outlet confirms there are at least "hundreds of thousands" of separate names in the database.
  • Commissary hack: The hackers also appear to have given inmates throughout the Russian prison system a temporary deep discount in the online commissary, drastically altering prices of food items. Products that would normally cost more than $1 each were going for a penny, according to screenshots and video provided by the hackers. The administrator of the online shop reportedly didn't discover the breach for hours.
  • 'New chapter': The Russia-Ukraine war "has undoubtedly begun a new chapter in the use of hacktivism, unprecedented in its current scale," an expert from cybersecurity firm SentinelOne tells CNN, referring to the term for politically motivated hacking.
  • Global impact: NPR and Wired have more on the recent spike in hacktivism—not only in Russia, but also in Iran, Israel, and Ukraine.
(More Russia stories.)

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