Image: Killnet / Telegram

Leader of Russian hacktivist group Killnet ‘retires,' appoints new head

Killmilk, the leader of the pro-Russia hacktivist group Killnet, announced his “retirement” this week and appointed a new head for the gang.

"From now on, I am no longer a part of Killnet! I'm retiring…,” he said in a Telegram post. Russia’s war in Ukraine “has taken a toll on my nerves and strength. I did everything I could," he said.

This leadership change comes just a few weeks after Russian journalists uncovered the alleged identity of Killmilk, who became famous during the war for representing a collective of politically motivated hackers.

The report said Killmilk is a 30-year-old Russian citizen named Nikolai Serafimov. He is married, owns Porsche and BMW cars, and has a previous conviction for drug distribution.

Although many researchers claim that Killmilk was more of a brand maker than a hacker, in his farewell post, he said that he "recreated hacktivism all over the world." As with many of his public pronouncements, he made claims that are hard to verify.

"I showed everyone that it is simple…I gave birth to hundreds of hack groups in Russia," he said.

Killnet’s new "owner," according to a separate post on the group’s official Telegram channel, is a threat actor known as Deanon Club.

“Killmilk and I have been friends for a long time, and this is the person who brought me to the masses,” Demon Club said.

Two groups did indeed have collaborated in the past. In February of this year, they established a forum and marketplace called Infinity, which offers a range of hacking services and even paid tutorials for would-be criminals.

Deanon Club also claimed distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on darknet drug marketplaces such as BlackSprut.

In an interview in 2022, the leader of Deanon Club said that their friends and family “have no idea” what kind of work they’re doing: “There is a separate story for them.” Deanon Club also didn't speak highly of Killnet in that interview, calling the group “clowns.”

Deanon Club said that Killnet should expect “new adventures” but didn’t specify what he had in mind.

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Daryna Antoniuk

Daryna Antoniuk

is a reporter for Recorded Future News based in Ukraine. She writes about cybersecurity startups, cyberattacks in Eastern Europe and the state of the cyberwar between Ukraine and Russia. She previously was a tech reporter for Forbes Ukraine. Her work has also been published at Sifted, The Kyiv Independent and The Kyiv Post.