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Hackers Deface AIS Data of Putin's Personal Yacht

Blohm + Voss
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Published Feb 28, 2022 9:36 PM by The Maritime Executive

Anonleaks, a German group affiliated with the activist hacking organization Anonymous, has tampered with the AIS data for the personal yacht of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The hackers have relocated the reported AIS position of the yacht Graceful to Snake Island, a small but strategic Ukrainian outpost which was seized by Russian forces last week. The group also changed the yacht's reported callsign to "Anonymo," and its new destination is not printable.

The Graceful's actual position is in the Baltic Sea, on the opposite side of the European continent. Shortly before the invasion, she relocated from a shipyard in Hamburg to the Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad, where she cannot be reached by international sanctions.

Graceful is an 82-meter superyacht built by Russian yard Sevmash and fitted out by a well-regarded German shipbuilder. With three upper decks, the steel-and-aluminum vessel has spacious accommodations for 12 guests and 14 crewmembers. Boat International reports that her interior finishing includes "tooled leather, tapestry walls, marquetry, marble, stainless steel, ebony and untreated teak."

In a statement, the hacking group said that its actions are not aimed at the Russian people, but at the government organs that enabled the invasion of Ukraine. "The operation targets Putin and the Putin-controlled state apparatus, state-owned companies, the state-controlled media, and individuals and private companies that have benefited from Putin’s autocratic system for decades," the group wrote. 

Anonymous claims that it has taken down more than 300 Russian media and bank websites since February 25. On Monday, it also hacked the home pages of multiple Russian state media websites to display an anti-war message, purportedly written by Russian journalists. 

"We have been isolated from the whole world, they have stopped buying oil and gas. In a few years we will be living like North Korea," said one message, displayed briefly on the homepages of TASSKommersant and Izvestia. "What is this for? So that Putin can get into the history books? It's not our war, let's stop him!"