Bot Network
Ukraine Exposes and Dismantles Massive Bot Network, Confiscates 150,000 SIM Cards

The Cyber Police Department of the National Police of Ukraine has scored another major victory against online disinformation and fraud. They’ve successfully rooted out a significant bot farm connected to over 100 individuals. This decisive operation involved extensive searches f this Bot Network across numerous locations.

Bot Network Promoting Russian Propaganda Brought Down

The bot network was reportedly used for circulating Russian propaganda, a justification for the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It also serves as a hub for distributing illegal content. Along with personal data of individuals, and was implicated in various fraudulent schemes.

The operation, a joint effort between the cyber police and units of the Ukrainian National Police. This was across three key regions: Vinnytsia, Zaporizhzhia, and Lviv. It led to the confiscation of a substantial amount of equipment and tools used to conduct these operations.

Seizures Reveal the Extent of the Operation

Among the seize items were computer systems, mobile phones, an excess of 250 GSM gateways. An astounding 150,000 SIM cards linked to numerous mobile network providers.

A press release from the cyber police department, “The culprits employs specialize tools & software to generate thousands of bot accounts across social media. These accounts were then used to launch ads that violated Ukrainian regulations and laws.”

In addition to propagating harmful propaganda, these accounts implicates in unauthorize dissemination of personal data of Ukrainian citizens. Various internet fraud schemes, and dissemination of known false messages related to threats to citizens’ safety and property damage.

An Ongoing Struggle Against Disinformation Bot Farms

Since the onset of the Ukraine conflict, Russian threat actors have engaged in disinformation campaigns specifically targeting Ukraine. They have actively been investing in Ukraine-based bot farms.

In September 2022, the Cyber Department of the Ukrainian Security Service (SSU) put a stop to a battalion of bots. Numbering in the thousands, spreading Russian disinformation across numerous social media platforms and messaging apps.

The following month, the Ukrainian cyber police managed to disassemble a substantial bot farm housing over a million bots. This network was also implicated in disseminating Russian disinformation and fake news across social networks.

Earlier, the SSU announced that they had successfully terminated five fake news networks controlling over 100,000 bogus social media accounts. These bot farms, operating from Kharkiv, Cherkasy, Ternopil, and Zakarpattia, were spreading false information. This was about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with the intent to spread fear and discourage Ukrainians.

Even Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, was a target of several disinformation campaigns. Two notable ones include video deepfakes on Facebook. Ukrainian radio stations uses to propagate false news that Zelenskyy was critically ill. Russian threat actors are suspect to be behind both incidents.