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Hacken: defending Ukraine while growing business

9 minutes

By Hacken

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has dramatically affected everyone in this country. Millions of refugees, regular missile attacks targeting critical infrastructure, destruction of industrial facilities, heavy bombardments of large cities, and the unprecedented scope of cyberattacks are the reality in Ukraine today. 

Nevertheless, Ukraine is firmly beating Russia on the battlefields, and the country’s economy demonstrates the first signs of recovery, with some sectors, such as IT, showing 23% year-to-year growth. The IT sector generates export revenue for Ukraine and defends the country’s cyberspace against Russian attempts to cause massive digital collapse.

From the first days of the Russian invasion, the company Hacken has mobilized all its internal resources to defend Ukraine in cyberspace while generating business profits to donate money to Ukrainian charitable foundations and the army. 

How has the war changed Hacken? What is our contribution to defending Ukraine in cyberspace? Why is it crucial to keep on doing business under any circumstances? What are our plans for the future?  

Find the answers

Defend Ukraine bug bounty programs 

On 27 February 2022, the bug bounty platform HackenProof called for Ukrainian Cyber Defense, a special bug bounty program for finding possible vulnerabilities in the Ukrainian IT infrastructure. The goal was to help make Ukraine’s digital systems more resilient to cyberattacks.

Office relocation and support for employees

Hacken’s team started preparing for the outbreak of warfare in January 2022 amidst the first evidence of a possible Russian invasion. A few weeks before the war started, the company’s executives recommended all its employees to leave Ukraine and move to safer countries such as Spain, Portugal, or any other European destination. All expenditures associated with the relocation of both employees and their family members were covered by the corporate budget. 

The company now has a comfortable office in Lisbon, Portugal. Also, the employees who stay in this city get compensation for the accommodation. Concerning the difference in the cost of living in Europe and Ukraine, the company has raised wages regardless of their location, position, or experience. 

The employees who remain in Ukraine also get additional reimbursement for co-working space and power banks and electric generators to stay online even when there is no electricity due to Russian missile attacks. The company has also compensated for the internal relocation of employees to the Western part of Ukraine. 

Employees are the main corporate asset of the company Hacken.  

Standing with the UA Army

Since February 2022, Hacken has allocated around $500K to Ukrainian Armed Forces and charitable foundations. We have established a mechanism whereby every employee whose friends or relatives are members of the UA armed forces can leave the request for financial assistance with all details specifying the required equipment. Upon verifying the request, Hacken funds the purchase of necessary equipment such as cars, helmets, military clothing, thermal imagers, patrol for the tank units, and many more positions. 

Leaving Russian market

Leaving Russia behind makes a world of difference for Ukraine. So we have joined over 1,000 companies that left Russia.

In March 2022, our team made the decision to block users from Russia and Belarus access to all Hacken applications. We have also performed a thorough check of all our clients, focusing on their attitude to the war in Ukraine. We do not cooperate with the companies that keep on working with the Russian market and do not express their protest against Russian aggression in any form, be it exit from the Russian market, financial donations to the UA army, freezing of Russian funds, etc. 

For businesses afraid of leaving Russia, here’s our INSIGHT: the end of relationships with Russian players has had an extremely low impact on our business performance and even strengthened our positions in other markets. 

Liberator by disBalancer: the nightmare of Russian propaganda

In the first days following the Russian massive attack, every team member of Hacken was actively trying to help Ukraine. At that time, our colleagues from disBalancer (Hacken has acquired the project) developed the tool allowing everyone to participate in DDoS attacks targeting Russian propaganda. The tool was named Liberator. Around 147K users have downloaded and run the program. On average, there were more than 4K daily active users. 

Liberator targeted Russian websites taking part in the war against Ukraine. Between March and August 2022, Liberator attacked more than 600 Russian services, including vital resources, infrastructural services, propaganda media outlets, government structures, fake donation websites, and Russian sabotage and espionage groups. These attacks had two primary purposes: to cause the crash of these resources and shift the focus of the Russian cyber specialists from attacking Ukraine to protecting their infrastructure. 

disBalancer team was regularly releasing updates to increase the efficiency of Liberator and make it more resistant to possible Russian cyber counterattacks. Liberator has been hugely successful with 100 thousand cyber volunteers and 6 thousand simultaneous attacks.

Probably, the best confirmation is the tremendous attention to the app from Russia itself. Russian cyber ‘activists’ have even repeatedly announced ‘hunting’ for Hacken and disBalancer leaders.

hVPN for free

Safe running of Liberator required using a VPN service. To popularize Liberator among the masses, Hacken made its in-house VPN service, hVPN, free of charge while providing unlimited capacity to users. By turning on hVPN, users could avoid IP blocking. 

International media writing about our role in defeating Russia in cyberspace 

On 30 March 2022, Coindesk, one of the leading crypto media, published an article describing the life of Hacken during the first month of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The article describes the decisions made by Hacken executives, the psychological conditions of the management and staff, the role of disBalancer’s Liberator in the cyberwar, and the motivation of every team member to do his/her best to defend Ukraine. 

“Sometimes, during a call, people say: ‘Sorry, we’re having an airstrike here, need to go downstairs to the basement, call you back in an hour.”

Dyma Budorin for Coindesk

Under any circumstances, our specialists keep on demonstrating high performance.

In the article for The Wall Street Journal, Hacken CEO Dyma noted that the key to sustaining strong business performance during the war was the separation of functions within the company:

One team handles Hacken’s core business as it attempts to grab a greater share of the cryptosecurity market and develop subscription-based software slated for rollout later this year. The other pitches into the loosely organized cyber counteroffensive against Russia.”

Dyma Budorin for The Wall Street Journal

In the article for Yahoo Finance published on 24 March, Dyma anticipated the Russian gradual exit from the global web. By clocking Western social media and non-Russian IP addresses Russia has entered a period of digital isolation. 

When speaking about the current state of affairs in crypto and its impact on Hacken, in the interview for Hackernoon, Dyma admitted that our products are vital for the industry even during the bear market. 

“Our security coverage is expanding, and we keep evolving core products while focusing on our main goal — transforming Web3 into a more ethical industry… Hacken will be very strong after the Ukrainian victory in this war, there is no doubt”. 

Dyma Budorin for Hackernoon

The fragments above are just a few examples of the broad media coverage of our activities after 24 February 2022. But they constitute strong evidence of the role of cybersecurity in modern warfare. 

With regard to the recent Russian missile attacks targeting the country’s energy system, Ukrainian cyber forces do not have any other choice but to prevent all Russian attempts to cause a digital collapse in Ukraine.  

Cybersecurity and data protection among the key pillars of Ukrainian future victory 

During the Kyiv Economic Forum that took place on 17 November 2022, the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine spoke about the development and use of technologies during the war. He admitted the importance of cybersecurity and data protection in ensuring the country’s independence. According to Fedorov, all crucial Ukrainian systems keep on working. Ukraine must use the war as a chance for radical reforms and changes. 

One of the main messages shared by the Minister during the event is that “Ukraine needs really fast solutions”. The same applies to the world of Web3. 

During the recent Web Summit in Lisbon, Mykhailo Fedorov admitted that “the war in Ukraine is really a technological war”. The role of the technology sector is to support the Ukrainian people and repair the damage done to the country.

During the Blackberry Security Summit 2022 that took place on 26 October 2022, the deputy head of state services for special communications and information protection of Ukraine Victor Zhora recommended Western corporate leaders invest in cybersecurity. According to Zhora, building cybersecurity in your company is the best way to build cyber resilience within the scope of a state. The most important element of cyber resilience is cooperation among all actors.

Zhora’s words are also relevant to the field of Web3. Cooperation between projects and cybersecurity providers is the key to making the industry free of fraud and disastrous hacks. 

Hacken team would also like to thank the government of Ukraine for facilitating the relocation of some of our male employees to our foreign office for more efficient and safer work. We highly appreciate the work done by the government, especially the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine 

The future of Hacken: insights shared by CEO 

During the crypto winter, we need to conduct technical research and develop public goods services. It is the way of building community and the first step towards transforming Hacken into a powerful DAO.

Products will be developed step-by-step. Once product A is ready, only then we start developing product B. This scheme will lead to greater efficiency. 

The solutions to be released by Hacken will be focused on cleaning the market of fraudulent actors who manipulate users’ money. That is why, in the coming months, the biggest attention will be paid to Proof of Reserves, the recently released service aimed at checking whether custodians, exchanges, lenders, and stablecoin issuers are involved in any secretive financial transactions with your money. 

The financial performance of our company allows us to keep on donating money to support the UA armed forces and volunteers. Also, our financial reserves let Hacken survive crypto winter even without the need to lay off staff (except for the employees who do not meet performance goals). 

Generally, there is absolutely no risk of any serious troubles in Hacken. The company will use the crypto winter as the platform for further building the brand and reaching new markets with our innovative products. 

Thank you for standing with Hacken and Ukraine.

Support Ukrainian Army

  1. National Bank of Ukraine
  2. UNITED24 (also supports crypto donations)
  3. Charity foundation of Serhiy Prytula (also supports crypto donations in USDT, BTC, ETH)
  4. Come Back Alive (also supports crypto donations in USDT, USDC, BTC, ETH, SOL)

Donations for Humanitarian Aid

  1. Humanitarian Aid Account of National Bank of Ukraine
  2. UNITED24 (also supports crypto donations)
  3. Helping to Leave (also supports crypto donations in USDT, USDC, BTC, ETH)

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Table of contents

  • Defend Ukraine bug bounty programs 
  • Office relocation and support for employees
  • Standing with the UA Army
  • Leaving Russian market

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