Ukraine has traced a Russian operation to a bot farm that was secretly operating in the country’s own capital of Kyiv.
The farm operated more than 1 million bot accounts, which helped the propaganda operation build an audience of over 400,000 users on social media, according to the Security Service of Ukraine it had dismantled the bot farm, which belonged to an unnamed Russian citizen in Kyiv.
The bot farm spread the propaganda with the help of at least 5,000 SIM cards and 200 proxy servers. This allowed the propaganda operation to spoof various IP addresses and register fake users accounts, without tipping off the social media services and their anti-bot measures.
The Russian citizen behind the bot farm seems to have been working with pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. The SSU notes domestic political forces ordered the bot farm operation, which also had ties to a Ukrainian lawmaker.
The adversary tries to use any opportunity to fuel internal strife or manipulate public opinion. Unfortunately, consciously or unconsciously, some Ukrainian political forces play along with the enemy and put their own ambitions above state interests, the SSU said in a statement.