Russia blames hackers as commercial radio stations broadcast fake air strike warnings
Commercial radio stations across Russia on Wednesday morning broadcast warnings about air raids and missile strikes. The Ministry of Emergency Situations said the broadcasts were the “result of a hacker attack.”
Gazprom-Media, Russia’s largest media company and a subsidiary of the state-owned energy corporation Gazprom, said an “attack on the infrastructure of a satellite operator” was to blame and allowed the messages to be broadcast over multiple radio stations, according to the RIA Novosti news agency.
A statement from the Ministry of Emergency Situations said: “This morning in some regions, listeners on the air of radio stations could hear an alarm signal and a text message asking them to go to the shelter.”
The ministry said that as a result of the breach affecting the unnamed satellite, “an unauthorized tie-in is going on the air,” and stressed that the alarm signals “do not correspond to reality.” The statement did not mention Ukraine.
Authorities in Russian districts had to issue public statements to deny the threat of a missile strike. The governments of the Belgorod and Voronezh regions said that they presumed that the attack was conducted “from the Ukrainian side.”
“The goal is to sow panic,” said an official quoted by the Kommersant newspaper.
The authorities in Voronezh described the incident as “a provocation of accomplices of the Kyiv regime and is not true. The situation in the region is under control and without incident.”
On Tuesday, Ukrainian hackers claimed they were responsible for disrupting two media websites during a speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Sirens and loud warnings
Oleg Shakirov, a foreign policy researcher based in Moscow, has posted several videos to Twitter of the broadcast alert as initially shared by Telegram users.
Today, radio stations across Russia including in Volgograd, Stavropol, Moscow region broadcasted air raid warnings (the video is reportedly from Belgorod)— Oleg Shakirov (@shakirov2036) February 22, 2023
Acc to the Ministry of Emergency Situations this messages is fake and was caused by a hacker attack https://t.co/Cd7bGeVVAx pic.twitter.com/wfuIjGQkyZ
It is not known who is to blame for the incident. The Russian government has repeatedly attempted to emphasize the danger that the Russian state and people face as a result of what it calls the special operation in Ukraine.
Last month several Pantsir-S1 mobile anti-aircraft systems were installed on the roofs of buildings in central Moscow, almost 1,000 km north of the frontlines in eastern Ukraine.
Although there have been reports that Ukrainian forces have conducted operations against the Russian military inside of Russian territory, Ukraine does not possess weapons capable of striking Moscow.
Alexander Martin is the UK Editor for Recorded Future News. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.