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Navalny's Revenge? Hackers steal massive Russian prisoner database: Report

ByAditi Srivastava
Apr 01, 2024 12:26 PM IST

Hackers breach Russian prison database after Navalny's death, accessing sensitive information on prisoners and families.

Hackers have reportedly breached a massive Russian prison database containing sensitive information. The move comes just weeks after the death of opposition leader Alexey Navalny. CNN has exclusively learned that a group of anti-Kremlin cybercriminals sought to avenge the death of Navalny, a vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin.

Russian prisoner database hacked

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is escorted upon his arrival for a hearing in Moscow after being detained at a protest against corruption and demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.(Reuters)

Alexey Navalny died while serving a sentence of 19 years in prison on charges of extremism that he denied as politically motivated. CNN reviewed interviews with hackers and examined screenshots and data provided. As per the report, hackers used a computer network connected to Russia's prison system to put a photo of Navalny on the hacked prison contractor's website.

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In the wake of Navalny's death, his supporters, relatives, and Western leaders accused the Kremlin of being responsible, a charge the Kremlin denies. Navalny's widow, Yulia, has vowed to continue his work. She, along with Navalny's followers, have accused President Putin of being behind his death.

‘Long live Alexey Navalny’

A message on the hacked website read ‘Long live Alexey Navalny.’ The screenshot showed a picture of Navalny with his wife Yulia attending a political rally. Reports allege that the hackers not only breached the website but may have also accessed a database containing information on hundreds of thousands of Russian prisoners, including their families and friends. The hackers said the data included information about prisoners in the penal colony in the Arctic region where Navalny passed away on February 16.

Reportedly, the hackers changed prices in the Russian prison's online store making items look quite cheap. “We were watching the [access logs to the online store] and it just kept scrolling faster and faster with more and more customers making purchases,” a hacker told CNN.

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The staff took a while to notice, but it was too late. Hackers had already exploited the system. They breached a database containing information on roughly 800,000 prisoners and their families, as verified by a news outlet. cybersecurity expert confirmed the authenticity of the leaked data.

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