Ukraine destroys five bot farms that were spreading 'panic' among citizens

Over 100,000 fake accounts were allegedly used to spread misinformation about Russia's invasion.

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SBU

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has destroyed five "enemy" bot farms engaged in activities to frighten Ukrainian citizens. 

In a March 28 release, the SBU said that the bot farms had an overall capacity of at least 100,000 accounts spreading misinformation and fake news surrounding Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which started on February 24 and has now lasted over a month. 

According to the security service, the bot farms have "tried to inspire panic among Ukrainian citizens and destabilize the socio-political situation in various regions."

The SBU has accused Russia of operating the farms for conducting "large-scale information sabotage." The farms were found in areas including Kharkiv, Cherkasy, Ternopil and Zakarpattia. 

The bots used social media accounts to spread "distorted news" and propaganda related to the invasion. 

SBU investigators raided several bot farms and seized items including over 100 GSM gateway devices, close to 10,000 SIM cards, laptops, and other computing equipment. Photos shared by the Ukrainian agency also appear to show the seizure of mobile phones, USB drives, and weaponry. 

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SBU

However, investigators have not mentioned any arrests.

Ukrinform reports that the country has launched a new fact-check bot, "Perevirka," that citizens can use to identify fake online content.

Ukraine has faced a barrage of cybersecurity incidents and breaches since the beginning of 2022, before the war began. 

This week, infrastructure belonging to the Ukrainian internet service provider (ISP) Ukrtelecom was the target of a cyberattack. For a time, connectivity collapsed to 13% of pre-invasion levels, but Ukrainian officials say the attack has since been "neutralized." 

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