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Anonymous-linked group hacks Russian space research site, claims to leak mission files

Links to a cache of leaked data were posted on Twitter

In this photo illustration a Roscosmos State Corporation for... Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In the latest salvo from hacktivists working in support of Ukraine, an Anonymous-linked group has defaced a website belonging to Russia’s Space Research Institute (IKI) and leaked files that allegedly belong to the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

As reported by Vice, hackers appear to have breached one subdomain of the IKI website, although other subdomains remain online. The compromised part of the site relates to the World Space Observatory Ultraviolet project (WSO-UV), a project similar to the Hubble Space Telescope and planned for launch in 2025.

A popular Twitter account tied to the loosely organized Anonymous movement shared details Thursday morning and attributed the action to a group known as v0g3lSec.

At time of publication, the uv.ikiweb.ru site was inaccessible. An archived version of the website captured on the morning of March 3rd shows the message:

“Heyyy Russian f*** .. Sorry.. Cosmonauts ??.. idk what to say, go get a nice website instead of threatening people with ISS, heard??”

The last part of the message presumably references remarks made by Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos: after sanctions were announced by the US, Rogozin seemed to imply the partnership between NASA and Russian agencies could come to an end, threatening the future of the International Space Station.

The YourAnonNews account also shared a link to a cloud-hosted zip file that claims to be a data leak from the Russian space agency. Vice reports that the download contains a mixture of handwritten forms, PDFs and spreadsheets and includes descriptions of lunar missions. The Verge could not confirm the authenticity of the data.

The hack against Roscosmos comes just days after another Anonymous-linked group made an unverified claim to have disabled Russian satellite control systems. Twitter posts from the group — operating under the name NB65 — claimed to have shut down a monitoring system used by the Russian space agency, although details could not be verified, and the claims were rebutted by Rogozin.

As the ground war between Russia and Ukraine continues, the cyber domain has seen a growing number of vigilante actors mounting operations against Russia and its allies, with data leaks emerging as a strategic tool. Besides NB65, a hacking group known as AgainstTheWest claimed to have breached the Rosatom nuclear energy company; elsewhere, a group operating under the name Anonymous Liberland released 200GB of emails taken from Belarusian defense contractor Tetraedr.

In recent decades, Russia and the US have cooperated on a number of space missions, but there are signs that Russian space agencies are being drawn into the conflict. The commercial satellites of London-based company OneWeb were effectively held hostage by Roscosmos when the Russian agency halted a launch planned to take place this week and issued a list of demands to its customer. Roscosmos also stated that Russia would no longer sell rocket engines to the United States, although the move would have a limited impact on US companies.