Central Moscow was choked with a massive traffic jam after hackers breached a popular Russian ridesharing app and ordered hundreds of taxi drivers to the same address in the Russian capital.
Yandex Taxi, the Russian on-demand online transportation service that allows users to order cabs to travel to their desired location, was hacked on the morning of September 1. The company confirmed the incident in a statement given to Forbes.ru.
“On the morning of September 1, Yandex Taxi encountered an attempt by attackers to disrupt the service — several dozen drivers received bulk orders to the Fili region,” the company said.
The hackers sent all the taxis to Moscow’s Kutuzovsky Prospekt, a major road that runs east to west, leading into the center of Moscow.
The eight to ten-lane Kutuzovsky Prospekt road is rarely jammed, but with hundreds of taxis flooding in due to the fake pick-up orders, a massive traffic jam choked the road for nearly three hours.
A video of the incident shot from inside a cab has been circulating the social media, showing a large group of taxis waiting for fake passengers, blocking the street around them. While the police were present at the scene, they couldn’t make much difference.
The company said its security department “promptly stopped attempts at an artificial congestion” of the taxis, but this was not enough to stop the gridlock.
“Drivers still spent about 40 minutes in traffic jams due to fake orders,” the company said while promising to resolve the issue of compensation soon.
The company also said that it had improved its algorithm for detecting and preventing such attacks in the future.
The various footages of the traffic jam in central Moscow have been met with several reactions from the netizens.
For example, one Twitter user with the Twitter handle @rita51110, who had Ukrainian and British flags in the username, said, “Absolutely hilarious. What a brilliant hacker.”
Now if only they can repeat that trick in places logistically vital too the Russian war effort @anonops
— Craeshen (@Craeshen11) September 1, 2022
While another tweeted, “Now, if only they can repeat that trick in places logistically vital to the Russian war effort.”
While it is not clear yet who was responsible for the hack, the Twitter page Anonymous TV claims that the Anonymous collective was behind the incident and had been waging a “cyber war” on Russia for invading Ukraine.
‼️#Moscow had a stressful day yesterday. The largest taxi service in Russia 'Yandex Taxi' was hacked by the #Anonymous collective. A traffic jam took place in the center of Moscow when dozens of taxi were sent by the hackers to the address on Kutuzovsky Prospekt. #OpRussia pic.twitter.com/6fp1hp0f7r
— Anonymous TV 🇺🇦 (@YourAnonTV) September 2, 2022
Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, there have been various cyber-attacks on both Ukrainian and Russian targets, including some in NATO member countries. It is unclear how many of these attacks were state-sponsored and how many were conducted by independent hacktivist groups or individuals.
For example, thousands of internet users across Europe were thrown offline by the Russian cyber-attack on February 24, targeting Viasat, a California-based provider of high-speed satellite broadband services and secure networking systems covering military and commercial markets worldwide.
The purpose of the attack was to cripple Ukrainian command and control, which relied on Viasat’s satellite terminal, at least to some extent, as acknowledged by the senior Ukrainian cybersecurity official, Victor Zhora, who said it was “a huge loss in communications in the very beginning of the war.”
However, Europe experienced the fallout of this attack. For example, in France, according to Orange, a French Telecom company, 9,000 subscribers of a satellite internet service provided by its subsidiary, Nordnet, were left without internet.
Similarly, around one-third of 40,000 subscribers of bigblu satellite internet service based in Germany, France, Hungary, Greece, Italy, and Poland, were affected by the attacks on the Viasat satellite network.
The outages also knocked offline nearly 5,800 wind turbines in Germany and Central Europe with a combined output of 11 gigawatts.
In June, Killnet, a Russian hacktivist group, conducted intense Denial-of-Service (DoS) and Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks on Lithuanian government institutions and companies.
In DoS and DDoS attacks, the hackers overwhelm and shut the servers of a given platform, service, or website by flooding it with traffic.
Lithuanian state institutions and companies are under intense DDoS attack. It is likely that similar attacks will continue in the coming days, especially in the transport, energy and financial sectors. The most severe attacks now have been managed and services have been restored. pic.twitter.com/7onnYtceJi
— Lithuanian MOD 🇱🇹 (@Lithuanian_MoD) June 27, 2022
The cyber-attacks were in retaliation to the blockade imposed by Lithuania on the transit of Russian goods such as steel and iron ore to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, located between Lithuania and Poland.
Also, late last month, there were reports of a Kremlin-linked group of hackers who managed to steal classified military documents of NATO and put them up for sale online on Russian and English-language forums.