The Use Of Intellectual Property As An Instrument Of War

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion, Ukraine put together a team of volunteer hackers to conduct offensive operations and now, in response the the Russian invasion the Ukraine Ministry of Defence of Ukraine (GURMO) has leaked  critical documents about  the Russian Beloyarsk Nuclear Power Station which were stolen by the hackers. 

The act is believed to be the first time a hacked data has been leaked as an instrument of war to harm a nation.

GURMO has leaked a broad set of documents to writer Jeffery Carr, author of the book "Inside Cyber Warfare" to disseminate through his subscriber newsletter.  Beloyarsk's trade secrets may be valuable as it is home to the only two fast-breed nuclear reactors in commercial operation, the BN-600 and BN-800. Beloyarsk is run by the Rosenergoatom, the Russian state nuclear utility. Damaging their ability to do business is both an economic strike and an embarrassment for the broader nation as the leaks to Carr were done in a government ministry's name. 

While this is likely the first such use of intellectual property to damage a nation, especially during a combat situation, hack-and-leak operations are not an entirely new tool for nation-states. 

Leaks are often used as a sub-war way to needle adversaries, like when North Korea leaked documents from Sony Entertainment in its retaliation for the Kim Jung-un assassination comedy "The Interview," and Russia leaking emails from high-ranking Democrats in the run-up to the 2016 election. The release of the Beloyarsk documents dent Russia in a variety of ways. Immediately it tells Russia that intelligence has access to various pieces of infrastructure. It embarrasses a country that likes to boast about its scientific might. 

Hack-and-leak IP operations may offer one other substantial benefit and send a strong signal to critical infrastructure without actually harming people by damaging critical infrastructure.

One significant effect of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is that it has prompted a significant rethink of military strategy, both for the EU and for NATO, with the security threats presented by Moscow’s unexpected military aggression the most pressing issue

Euractiv EU:    SC Magazine:      Jeffrey Car / Substack:      The Conversation:    Daily Advent:  

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