Hackers utilized the Russian ride-hailing service Yandex Taxi to simultaneously summon dozens of taxis to the same place, resulting in major traffic gridlock in Moscow, a high-traffic area of the Russian capital. The attack happened on September 1st, causing a complete stop on the already-busy boulevard of Kutuzovsky Prospect.
On Thursday, a video that appeared to show lines of cabs attempting to reach the same location was extensively shared on Twitter and Reddit. Despite the fact that Moscow is renowned for its heavy traffic—it was the second-most congested city in the globe last year—this occurrence had nothing to do with the regular traffic patterns in the nation’s capital.
Polina Pestova, a spokesman for Yandex explained that on the morning of September 1, service was disrupted by attackers as “several dozen drivers received bulk orders to the Fili region.” The ride-hailing company, which is a subsidiary of Yandex, the largest internet company in Russia, also noted that the traffic congestion lasted less than an hour, after the app’s security teams “stopped the attempts of artificial congestion of cars.” Its system for identifying and avoiding such attacks has already been upgraded to prevent such situations in the future.
Yandex is yet to officially confirm who initiated the attack, the hacktivist group Anonymous took credit for the traffic congestion via Twitter. It claims to have collaborated with the IT Army of Ukraine, a loosely coordinated organization of hacktivists that Mykhailo Fedorov, the vice prime minister of Ukraine, assisted in the formation of after Russia first invaded the country. Earlier in the year, Anonymous declared a “cyber war” against Russia, and later claimed responsibility for allegedly taking over Russian TV channels with footage that was considered “illegal” in the nation. Since then, as part of an ongoing cyber war against Russia, hackers have exposed troves of data and terabytes’ worth of emails from the nation’s government agencies and large enterprises.