Roscosmos Head Rejects Anonymous Claim That Russian Satellites Were Hacked

Russia's space program head has denied claims that its space control center has been shut down by a hacking group.

On Tuesday afternoon, a popular Twitter account dedicated to following the activity of the loose internet collective known as Anonymous tweeted that an Anonymous-affiliated hacking group called NB65 had "shut down the control center" of Russia's Roscosmos space agency and that the country therefore "has no more control over their own spy satellites".

It is unclear exactly how NB65 carried out the attacks and Newsweek could not immediately verify them. The group posted more details on their own Twitter page including a screenshot of what appeared to be server shutdown options and the login page for an unidentified vehicle monitoring system.

In a statement posted to the account, NB65 stated: "The Russian space agency sure does love their satellite imaging. Better yet they sure do love their vehicle monitoring system. The WS02 was deleted, credentials were rotated and the server is shut down."

In the early hours of Wednesday, Dmitry Rogozin, director general of Roscosmos, said that the claims made by NB65 were "not true" and referred to them as "scammers and petty swindlers."

"All our space activity control centers are operating normally," Rogozin added.

In addition, the Roscosmos press service told Newsweek in a statement regarding the hacking claims: "All our space activity control centers are operating normally. All such claims are false."

The ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has led to widespread international tension, and defense experts have said cyberattacks could feature heavily. "I think the risk right now is high and rising," Derek Vadala, chief risk officer at the U.S. cyber risk ratings firm BitSight, told Fortune magazine on February 24.

Russia's own cyber warfare capabilities are well-known. Already, cyberattacks have been launched on Ukrainian government websites with multiple forced offline recently—though Russia was not immediately confirmed as the source.

Ukraine, too, is preparing for cyberattacks of its own. On Twitter, the country's State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection (SSSCIP) agency called for anyone with information regarding "vulnerabilities in Russian cyber defenses" to report them and that "Ukrainian cyber experts will use your information to fight against the occupant."

An unverified Twitter account purportedly linked to Anonymous stated last week that the group is "officially in cyber war against the Russian government" and claimed that it is attacking Russian government websites.

Experts have expressed surprise that a cyberwar has not yet been launched on a wider scale. As of Monday key Ukrainian infrastructure including the country's internet was still functioning.

Jason Healey, a former White House staffer for infrastructure protection and intelligence officer, who is currently a research scholar on cyber conflict at Columbia University, told The Washington Post on Monday that he had imagined an "orchestrated unleashing of violence in cyberspace" in Ukraine that he did not yet consider to have happened.

Update, 3/2/22, 9:38 a.m. ET: This article has been updated to include a statement from Roscosmos.

Dmitry Rogozin (L) and a Soyuz rocket
Dmitry Rogozin seen at a meeting in Sochi, Russia, in May 2018 and a Russian Soyuz rocket launch in Kazakhstan in October, 2012. Rogozin has denied claims of hacked Russian satellites. NASA/Getty/Mikhail Svetlov/Bill Ingalls