A group of Belarusian hackers said on Monday they had infected computers used by the Belarusian railway network.

They would have encrypted the data stored there.

Thus, hackers hope to disrupt the movement of Russian troops in the country.

Russia sent troops to Belarus to hold military exercises last week.

Thus, trains carrying rocket launchers and other Russian equipment have been identified in the cities of Minsk, Gomel and Rechitsa, according to the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab.

Faced with this action, the Cyber ​​Partisans, a network of activist hackers decided to act.

On Monday, they said they targeted the state-owned Belarusian Railway and encrypted the majority of the company's servers, databases and workstations.

The hacker group came into being in September 2020, after Lukashenko's disputed election.

It aims to overthrow the regime of the Belarusian president and brings together 25 anonymous computer experts.

Activist hackers

At first, the immediate consequences of the hack were unclear.

When travelers tried to book a train ticket, the Belarusian railway website simply returned an error message "temporarily unavailable".

A spokesperson for the group provided more details in an interview with Bloomberg News.

According to him, the hackers have encrypted or destroyed internal databases that the Belarusian railways use to control traffic, customs and stations.

The Belarusian Railway's website describes its Minsk division as "one of the most important strategic hubs for rail transport between Russia, the Baltic States and Western Europe".

To encrypt computers on the rail network, the Cyber ​​Partisans allegedly used ransomware.

In this type of computer attacks, the attackers demand payment in exchange for a key.

Having this key is the only way to unlock the data concerned.

In this case, however, the fiduciary demand has turned into a political demand.

Blockade of Russian troops and release of prisoners

The group said it would return the rail network's computers to operation subject to two conditions.

First, the Cyber ​​Partisans demand the withdrawal of Russian soldiers from Belarus, in anticipation of a possible invasion of Ukraine.

The group is also demanding the release of 50 political prisoners who need medical treatment.

The national human rights association Viasna has counted more than 995 political prisoners in Belarus.

A record that follows the bloody crackdown on protests by Lukashenko after elections marred by fraud in 2020.

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