Epic PsyOp—Ukrainians Leak 120,000 Russian Troops’ Info

Personal data on 120,000 of Putin’s invaders has been leaked. “Reliable sources” say this is the PII of Russian servicemen in the Ukrainian theater.

The data was published by Ukrayinska Pravda, a respected team of legitimate journalists. It echoes an old Soviet psychological tactic: To traumatize the troops and their families back home—many of whom don’t even know their sons have invaded Ukraine.

It’s not going to stop this tragic war. But, as we see in today’s SB Blogwatch, it might help hasten its end.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Don’t Start Your iPad Now.

Orcs’ PII at Large

What’s the craic? Севгіль Мусаєва is lost in translation—“Personal data of 120 thousand soldiers of the Russian Federation fighting in Ukraine”:

Reliable sources
The Centre for Defence Strategies has acquired the names of 120,000 Russian servicemen who are fighting in Ukraine. … The list was provided by the Ukrainian Pravda Center. … The Centre for Defence Strategies acquired this data from reliable sources.

Well, so you say. Gareth Corfield isn’t entirely sure—“Verification hit and miss so far”:

Impact on Russian military morale
[We] have been unable to fully verify the accuracy of the data from the leak. The records include what appears to be names, addresses, passport numbers, unit names, and phone numbers.

Whether or not the database’s contents are real, the impact on Russian military morale – knowing that your country’s enemies have your personal details and can contact your family if you’re captured, killed, or even still alive – won’t be insignificant.

Rumors swirled on the internet that activists were behind the disclosure. [If true,] Ukraine’s digital transformation minister has done perhaps the most exciting thing that will ever happen under the “digital transformation” banner by calling for a volunteer IT army.

Although Rei hopes people won’t troll the families:

One of Ukraine's main goals
It’s to the parents’ advantage to know what’s going on with their kids. It’s to Ukraine’s advantage to publicize what’s going on. The one entity who it’s not to their advantage is the Russian government.

Just send their family members (found on VKontakte in most cases, the Russian equivalent of Facebook) a form letter (in Russian) informing them of the fact that their child is in Ukraine — as most of them have no clue, and the Russian government wants to keep it that way. You could include a link to the Ukrainian site for parents of Russian soldiers to check on whether their child is a known POW or casualty.

Ukraine has generally made it standard practice to give POWs access to a phone as soon as they’re captured so they can tell their families where they are and that they were captured. … One of Ukraine’s main goals is for regular Russians to understand what’s going on inside the country.

O RLY? With a lesson from history, here’s Grumpy Old Salt—@drj0nes57:

Hopefully the hackers can figure out an effective way to notify the families. Russia never tells military families what they are doing with their loved ones. It became a huge source of discontent during their Afghanistan war.

Alperovitch Institute for Cybersecurity Studies founder, Thomas Rid, can’t rid himself of caution: [You’re fired—Ed.]

Broken men will return home
Wow wow wow. … Ukrayinska Pravda is a serious outlet, claiming to have a “reliable source.”

We’re probably looking at one of the best-timed and most devastating leaks of all time. … GRU and others have a long history of catastrophic OPSEC. … There’s also sweet historical irony in this: [It] is an old Soviet active measures tactic.

There’s a long history of leaking lists of names of covert personnel. … What’s the practical effect? We know from history that a leak of personnel names has a powerful psychological effect. … It creates an acute sense of vulnerability, in a very personal way, for those in charge, and for those exposed.

Make no mistake, this [war] will also devastate Russia: … Broken men will return home, traumatized by what they did, forever haunted by nightmares, the sight of their own kids and grandkids ever reminding them of their shame.

But, with a cautionary tale, here’s Christian Britschgi:

Congealing into one amorphous bad guy
Last Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a violent invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Late that night East Coast time, the D.C. bar and restaurant Russia House … had its windows smashed in.

The vandalism of Russia House is both condemnable (no matter who the owners are) and poorly targeted: … One of Russia House’s two owners is an American military veteran. The other is from Lithuania.

Unfortunately, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine wears on, the distinctions between the Russian government that ordered it, Russian institutions generally, and the Russian people writ large are starting to fade. All are congealing into one amorphous bad guy.

Bringing us back down to Earth with a bump, it’s NmAmDa:

Try to think more about the actual people who are getting killed, losing their homes—everything they have. And they don’t know if their family members are alive or not.

But you probably can’t phone the soldiers themselves: The Army took away their phones. So ShadowSystems suggests a similar strategy:

Call his Commanding Officer. Can’t reach the C.O.? Call his C.O. Can’t get hold of that one? Keep climbing up the chain until you do get in touch with someone, then burn their ears off while chewing them a new ****.

Meanwhile, orion7887 snarks it up:

Good thing Russia is not in the EU, as they would get fines for data breaches and GDPR violations.

And Finally:

Dua vs. Chainsmokers

Previously in And Finally

You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected]. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE. 30.

Image sauce: Ukrainian Armed Forces, via Internews Ukraine

Richi Jennings

Richi Jennings is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, and content strategist. A former developer and marketer, he’s also written or edited for Computerworld, Microsoft, Cisco, Micro Focus, HashiCorp, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Orthogonal Thinking, Native Trust, Elgan Media, Petri, Cyren, Agari, Webroot, HP, HPE, NetApp on Forbes and CIO.com. Bizarrely, his ridiculous work has even won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.

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