Ukrainian hackers, known as the “BO Team,” have claimed responsibility for a cyberattack on Russia’s State Research Center on Space Hydrometeorology, also referred to as “Planeta,” according to Ukraine’s defense intelligence directorate (GUR). The attack reportedly resulted in the destruction of the center’s database and valuable equipment. Planeta, a Russian state enterprise, processes data from Earth observation satellites utilized by various Russian state entities. The hackers, who allege the destruction of servers and two petabytes of information, including weather and satellite data, estimate the cost to Russia at least $10 million, although the claims and the attack itself are challenging to independently verify.
The cyberattack targeted the eastern branch of the organization, which GUR described as the largest of the three branches. The hackers asserted that 280 servers were destroyed, along with the paralysis of supercomputers, valued at $350,000 each, with irreparable damage. The impact extended to critical infrastructure, disabling air conditioning and humidification systems, regulation of emergency power supply, and cutting off internet access at a Russian Arctic station performing vital military tasks. GUR suggests that dozens of strategic Russian companies, supporting the occupation forces, will be without crucial information and services for an extended period.
This incident follows Ukraine’s recent cyberattacks on Russian entities, including an attack on the Russian telecom company Akado and a previous infection of servers belonging to Russia’s state tax service. Ukraine’s intelligence agency did not confirm its involvement in the Planeta attack, raising questions about the motivation behind publicly reporting it. Such acknowledgments lack concrete evidence, leading to skepticism and denials from the targeted companies. However, these cyber operations have not gone unnoticed by the Kremlin, with ongoing investigations into potential data breaches, as seen with the Russian internet regulator examining Alfa-Bank’s possible data breach following claims by Ukrainian security services.