HC3: Analyst Note: Pro-Russian Hacktivist Group ‘KillNet’ Threat to HPH Sector

December 22, 2022
Report: 202212221500

Executive Summary

HC3 is closely tracking hacktivist groups which have previously affected a wide range of countries and industries, including the United States Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) sector. One of these hacktivist groups—dubbed ‘KillNet’—recently targeted a U.S. organization in the healthcare industry. The group is known to launch DDoS attacks primarily targeting European countries perceived to be hostile to Russia, and operates multiple public channels aimed at recruitment and garnering attention from these attacks.


KillNet is a pro-Russian hacktivist group, active since at least January 2022, and known for its DDoS campaigns against countries supporting Ukraine; especially NATO countries, since the Russia-Ukraine war broke out last year. DDoS is the primary type of cyber-attack employed by the group, which can cause thousands of connection requests and packets to be sent to the target server or website per minute, slowing down or even stopping vulnerable systems. While KillNet’s DDoS attacks usually do not cause major damage, they can cause service outages lasting several hours or even days. Although KillNet’s ties  to official Russian government organizations, such as the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) or the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), are unconfirmed, the group should be considered a threat to government and critical infrastructure organizations, including healthcare.

Impact to HPH Sector KillNet has previously targeted, or threatened to target, organizations in the Healthcare and Public Health (HPH) sector. For example, Killmilk, a senior member of the KillNet group, has threatened the U.S. Congress with the sale of the health and personal data of the American people because of the Ukraine policy of the U.S. Congress. In December 2022, the pro-Russian hacktivist group claimed the compromise of a U.S.-based healthcare organization that supports members of the U.S. military and claimed to possess xxxxxxa large amount of user data from that organization. In May 2022, a 23-year old supposed KillNet member was arrested in connection with attacks on Romanian government websites. In response to the arrest, KillNet reportedly demanded his release and threatened to target life-saving ventilators in British hospitals if their demands were not met. The member also threatened to target the UK Ministry of Health. It is worth taking any claims KillNet makes about its attacks or operations with a grain of salt. Given the group’s tendency to exaggerate, it is possible some of these announced operations and developments may only be to garner attention, both publicly and across the cybercrime underground.

Read more at https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/killnet-analyst-note-tlpclear.pdf

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