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They’ve leaked terabytes of Russian emails, but who reads them?

The city of Blagoveshchensk is located in the far east of Russia, about 3,500 miles from Moscow and even further from Kyiv. Across a river, the Chinese city of Heihe sprawls to the south, followed by the first Sino-Russian city road bridge; Aside from the bridge, there’s little about the city that could make the news.

But the city’s public affairs are now being laid bare for anyone willing to look up in the form of 150GB of Blagoveshchensk city government emails released online by transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets — just one of many records the organization since the invasion of Ukraine began.

As the war in Ukraine nears the 60-day mark, leaks are pouring out of the country at an unprecedented rate. On April 20th, DDoSecrets co-founder Emma Best tweeted that the collective has released 5.8 terabytes of leaks since the invasion began, with no sign of slowing down.

On the day of this tweet, DDoSecrets released two new leaked email caches: 575,000 emails from property management company Sawatzky and 250,000 emails from Worldwide Invest, a Moscow-based investment firm.

In the “Russia” category, the leaks now cover a wide cross-section of Russian society, including banks, oil and gas companies, and the Russian Orthodox Church. Compared to some other leaked content from DDoSecrets, the Blagoveshchensk emails represent only a medium-sized leak. The smallest dataset (a list of personal details for 120,000 Russian soldiers in Ukraine) is only 22 MB, while the largest (20 years of emails from a Russian state broadcaster) is a whopping 786 GB.

DDoSecrets isn’t the only place hosting leaks from Russia, but it’s undeniably the most active now – although DDoSecrets member Lorax Horne says The organization does not explicitly seek to publish information that is pro-Ukraine or anti-Russia.

“People who didn’t hear about DDoSecrets before last month, be forgiven for assuming we’ve made a stand,” Horne said The edge. “But actually it has to do with the data that we receive. If we got datasets from the other side, we would consider that for publication as well. It just so happens that the majority of the records that come out are related to Russian companies.”

Still, it’s hard to deny that many of DDoSecret’s leaks are motivated by anti-war sentiment. (In an interview with NBC News, Emma Best described Hacktivists leaked to the collective as “shouting in response to the injustice of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the inhumanity of the war crimes committed by the invaders”. says to direct energy towards a defined set of Russian targets. Aside from the moral clarity that accompanies the Ukrainian government’s directive, other experts point to a robust approach by actors who might otherwise limit hacking activity.

The organization has been dubbed the successor to WikiLeaks, the pioneering leak-sharing platform that appears to have slowly spiraled into disarray in the years since founder Julian Assange was arrested. When the conflict began, almost all channels on the site were open for filing documents found to be inoperablemaking it nearly impossible to share leaks with the original transparency platform and meaning that WikiLeaks has had little role in hosting data related to the Ukraine conflict.

This has given DDoSecrets a new strategic role, acting as a de facto front-end distribution system for the fruits of hacktivist activities against Russia.

“Traditional hackers have never been well looked at by law enforcement or members of the security community, but it seems that in the current conflict they have been given a free pass to attack anything Russian,” said Jeremiah Fowler, a security researcher who has published research on hacktivism in Ukraine . “Russia has become Anonymous’ largest recruiter.”

But while the more chronically online among us yearn for a world where Sharing data can turn the tide of a warit is not clear that this is the world we live in.

The leaked data would be most impactful if ordinary Russians could access it and search the archives for concrete evidence of elite corruption, which is still endemic in the country. But with the information environment in the country increasingly tightly controlled by state censorshipit is unlikely that the vast majority of domestically leaked information will ever receive mainstream attention.

Bret Schafer, head of the information manipulation research team at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, points to the steady suppression of independent media in Russia as a likely factor in limiting the impact of incriminating information contained in recent leaks.

“Using the Pandora Papers as an example, they pointed to clear corruption at a very high level within the Kremlin that didn’t even attract attention domestically in Russia because it wasn’t covered up,” says Schafer. “You know, it was covered by a couple of independent outlets that are now defunct. Even the limited impact that has had domestically is unlikely to materialize this time because independent media has been further repressed.”

Schafer also points to the crackdown on Internet freedom in Russia, exemplified by the Blocking from Twitter and Facebook within the country since the beginning of the invasion. Although some younger, digitally-savvy Russians may be able to circumvent some of these measures, the result is that even digital messages are increasingly being approved by the Kremlin.

In the longer term, changing the Russian public’s understanding of the nature of the invasion will be a prerequisite for bringing the country back into international order, whether that happens years or even decades in the future. Leaks could play some role in this, but so could diplomacy and other measures to support the eventual rebuilding of independent media.

Whatever the end here, we can’t somehow get out the other side when 70 percent of Russians think this war was, well, not a war,” says Schafer.

https://www.theverge.com/2022/4/22/23036079/russian-emails-leaked-ddosecrets They’ve leaked terabytes of Russian emails, but who reads them?

Fry Electronics Team

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