A group of activist-hackers in Belarus has infiltrated almost every part of the the country’s authoritarian government in a bid to overthrow the Lukashenko regime, according to MIT’s Technology Review and Bloomberg. The hackers, known as Belarus Cyber Partisans, have been leaking information they found on sensitive police and government networks. They first started defacing government websites as an act of protest in September 2020 following the country’s disputed election, in which Alexander Lukashenko’s win was widely considered as fraudulent. But they also publish the information they get on Telegram, where they have 77,000 subscribers.
The group told the publications that it’s made up of 15 IT and cybersecurity experts working in the country’s tech sector. None of them are “professional hackers,” a spokesperson told Tech Review, with only four out of 15 doing the actual “ethical hacking.”
The Partisans’ most recent attacks gave them access to drone footage from the government’s crackdowns on protests last year and the Ministry of Interior Affairs’ mobile phone surveillance database. They also apparently got access to emergency services’ audio recordings, as well as video feeds from road speed and isolation cell surveillance cameras. The data the group released over the past weeks include lists of alleged police informants, personal information about top government officials and spies, police drone and detention center footage and secret recordings captured by the government’s wiretapping system.
If the Cyber Partisans have been effective in their efforts to infiltrate the government’s networks, it’s thanks to the help they get from another group called BYPOL. They reportedly reached out to BYPOL in December 2020 for guidance — after all, the group is made up of former Lukashenko officials who defected from the government and current ones working to topple the regime from the inside.
BYPOL provides them information on how to infiltrate government organizations and on the structure of the administration’s databases. In return, the Cyber Partisans provide the group with information it can use to investigate the regime’s crimes. BYPOL publishes information on its own Telegram channel and creates documentaries, one of which was cited at a congressional hearing that led to the US imposing sanctions against the Lukashenko regime.
The Cyber Partisan spokesperson told Tech Review that they’re using cyberattacks to “paralyze as much as possible of the regime’s security forces, to sabotage the regime’s weak points in the infrastructure and to provide protection for protesters.” Their ultimate goal is “to stop the violence and repression from the terroristic regime in Belarus and to bring the country back to democratic principles and rule of law.”