Russia’s RuTube Knocked Out for Second Day by Victory Day Cyberattack

RuTube, Russia’s answer to YouTube, was crippled for a second day on Tuesday by a cyber attack whose timing it linked to this week’s anniversary celebrations of victory over Nazi Germany in World War Two.

Usually packed with video content, RuTube’s site is currently black, with a short message reading: “Attention! The site is undergoing technical work. The site was attacked. At the moment the situation is under control. User data has been saved.”

The attack began on Monday, a major national holiday when Russia commemorated the Soviet victory over Adolf Hitler and President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech likening that struggle to the current war in Ukraine.

“Someone really wanted to prevent RuTube from showing the Victory Day parade and celebratory fireworks,” RuTube said. “It is not a sin to remember the battles our guys won. The battle for RuTube continues.”

It described the cyberattack as the worst in the site’s history.

In a separate incident on Monday, Russian satellite television menus were hacked to show viewers in Moscow messages about events in Ukraine, including “You have blood on your hands”, according to screenshots obtained by Reuters.

The websites of state-owned companies and news websites have fallen under sporadic hacking efforts since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, often to show information that is at odds with Moscow’s official line on what it calls a “special military operation”.

RuTube said a large team was working to restore the service, and denied reports it had lost the website’s source code.

The long outage goes some way to explaining why Russia has not yet blocked Alphabet’s YouTube, despite repeatedly fining and warning the US service over its removal of some state-backed Russian channels and for failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal.

Russia restricted access to Twitter and Meta Platform’s Facebook and Instagram in early March.

Critics have previously told Reuters that RuTube, despite its weekly user numbers jumping in early March as other foreign social media were forced out of the Russian market, still has a long way to go to rival Google’s video product.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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