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Hackers are having way too much fun going after Vladimir Putin

vladimir putin ukraine

The latest Ukraine news continues to paint a picture of a more or less conventional military conflict, following Russia’s invasion of its much smaller, democratic neighbor. That is to say, tanks, airstrikes, and some degree of gun battles have characterized the invasion thus far. Meanwhile, much more unconventional and potentially drastic moves are happening in the background as well. Which is to say, this is the digital age, so of course — hackers have begun to strike, too.

That kind of digital, asymmetric warfare has included everything from attacking the website of the Russian state-controlled news site RT, to other Russian media and government websites. With even a yacht owned by Putin also not immune to the chaos.

Hackers send $97 million Putin yacht to “hell”

According to various news accounts as well as a thread from a Bloomberg reporter that you can read here, an offshoot of the Anonymous hacking collective apparently manipulated some of the maritime data affiliated with Putin’s luxury yacht that he’s dubbed “Graceful.”

Per Bloomberg’s Ryan Gallagher, the hackers made it look like the yacht crashed into Ukraine’s Snake Island (more on that in a moment). And they also made it look like the yacht is headed to “hell.”

“They changed the yacht’s destination to ‘hell,’ ‘anonymous’ & ‘anonleaks’ & also changed its call sign to ‘FCKPTN,'” Gallagher noted in that thread. “They said they wanted to put the yacht in the scope of sanction packages as well as ‘put a little smile on some faces for a short period in these dark times.'”

Speaking of Snake Island, the hackers didn’t pick that location at random. It was there, a few days ago, where you might have heard about a small band of Ukrainian defenders. They were holding out against an advancing Russian warship, in what seemed to be a hopeless situation. The Ukrainian defenders ultimately radioed to the warship to “go f**k yourself.”

Which, as you might have seen by now, quickly became the expletive heard round the world.

Latest Ukraine news

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the world on social media
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the world on social media. Image source: Twitter

A snippet of that audio exploded across social media, as Ukraine news headlines continued to mount. Not only because of the defiance that audio showed. But because also, at least initially, it was reported that all of those Ukrainian soldiers were killed.

However, CNN reported on Monday that the Ukrainian soldiers are actually alive. They’ve apparently all been captured, but they’re alive. The soldiers on the island initially repelled two attacks by Russian forces. But they had to ultimately surrender after running out of ammunition. CNN’s report goes on to note that Russian soldiers destroyed the island’s infrastructure, including lighthouses, towers, and antennas.

The news out of Ukraine, meanwhile, continued to keep Twitter users transfixed over the weekend. As well as into Monday, when headlines continued to document the latest developments.

Sanctions packages are now in effect, for example. Western nations are also working to decouple some Russian banks from the worldwide SWIFT system. And in other Ukraine news, the country’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has gone viral over and over again for videos of himself that he’s filmed. They depict the leader rallying his countrymen, as well as refusing an offer from the US to spirit him out of the country, among other things.

Andy Meek profile photo

Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.