Pro-Navalny hackers accessed a database on Russian convicts, and lowered the price of prison shop food while they were there: report

  • Anti-Putin hackers say they accessed a Russian prison network and stole data, CNN reported.

  • The attack came soon after the death of Alexey Navalny was announced in February.

  • The hackers told the outlet they sought information that could help them find out what happened to Navalny.

Hackers accessed a computer network connected to Russia's prison system, posting a message in support of the late Alexey Navalny and claiming to have grabbed vast amounts of data, CNN reported.

During the February attack — which came only hours after Navalny's death in prison was announced — the hackers also appear to have adjusted the prison commissary's price list, reducing items to a fraction of their normal value, the outlet reported.

According to a screenshot published by CNN, the hackers posted a message showing an image of Navalny onto the site, praising him and saying in Russian: "We, IT specialists, left today's Russia," the outlet's translation said. "We love our country and will return when it is free from the Putin regime. And we'll go till the end on this path."

The hackers, who say they are Russian expats who oppose President Vladimir Putin's rule, as well as Ukrainians, told the outlet they were sharing the data they had stolen "in the hope that somebody can contact them and help understand what happened to Navalny."

They claimed that they had taken contact details of more than 800,000 prisoners, including those based at the Arctic penal colony where Navalny spent his last days, the outlet reported.

While accessing the prison computer system, they also appear to have adjusted its online commissary system, reducing products like noodles and canned goods to about a tenth of their normal price, CNN reported.

Business Insider has not independently verified the report, but a social media post from the online prison shop on February 19 apologizes for a technical failure in which prices were shown incorrectly.

Navalny, Putin's only serious political rival, was serving a 19-year sentence at an Arctic penal colony when he died in harsh conditions at the prison on February 16. Russia quickly denied any involvement, but world leaders, including President Joe Biden, laid responsibility at Putin's feet.

Many questions remain about the circumstances of his death, and his widow, Yulia Navalnaya, has claimed that Navalny's body was abused before his funeral.

Hackers have been active on both sides of Putin's war with Ukraine, including multiple attacks by Russian hackers.

In January, Ukraine's military intelligence services said that Russia had hacked surveillance cameras in Kyiv to pick out targets for a massive attack on the city.

A couple of weeks later, Ukrainian hacking group "Blackjack" claimed to have stolen construction plans for 500 Russian military sites, according to Ukraine's defense intelligence.

Other hacking stunts have included the August 2023 hacking of a news ticker to insult Putin, and the hacking, in 2022, of Russian smart TVs during a national military celebration, to post a message saying "no to war" with Ukraine.

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