The invasion of Ukraine has seen hacktivists from around the world come to the aid of the country in its war against Russia, with groups like Anonymous carrying out DDoS attacks against Kremlin-affiliated websites. But as far as we know, Russian government officials haven’t had to contend with a flood of spam calls. That changed on Wednesday with the launch of a website called WasteRussianTime.today.
Created by a hacktivist collective known as Obfuscated Dreams of Scheherazade (a reference to Arabic folklore), the website connects two random Russian officials in a three-way call so you can listen to the confusion (and annoyance) that ensues. The group claims its database contains more than 5,000 Russian government phone numbers, including ones linked to the country’s FSB intelligence agency. The group describes its actions as a “civil intervention,” noting “if you are hanging on the phone, you canʼt drop bombs, you canʼt coordinate soldiers, you canʼt make invasion plans.”
Outside of listening, you can’t participate in the call. That’s a deliberate decision the group told Wired it made to protect the identity of anyone who ends up using the website. If you can’t speak to the people on the other end, you won’t have the opportunity to give up identifying information.
How Russia might respond to the robocalls is unclear. When Engadget tried to place a call, an error message came up. “Sorry, we’re currently experiencing some issues with our phones,” it said. “Give us a few moments.” Gizmodo had better luck than us. For them, the system successfully connected a dozen Russian officials with one another, though those calls ended in static.
At the onset of the war, it was expected the Kremlin would go on a digital offensive, using its hacking expertise to weaken western infrastructure. But outside of a few incidents, it’s mostly been Russia on the defensive. In recent weeks, hackers have targeted everything from smart TVs to the country’s largest video platform in protest of the war in Ukraine.