The War in Ukraine: The Heroic Battle of the Tech Sector Against Russia

In 2022, knowing how to handle a weapon won’t be the only way to fight off invaders. Ukrainians working in the field of technology are living proof of this. The entire sector was mobilized to help the population and the army to resist the Russian attacks. He built an impressive digital “armor” in record time.

Created from scratch in a few weeks, Air Alert has become a providential companion for Ukrainians who live too far from cities to hear the civil protection sirens. “When airstrikes are detected, the app immediately sends them an alert so they can take cover,” explains Valentin Hrytsenko, director of marketing at Ajax, the company that developed it (along with Stfalcon).

The different types of alerts in Air Alert: air alert, explosions and street fights

The different types of alerts in Air Alert: air alert, explosions and street fights

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Cryptographic experts are not left out. Everstake founder Sergei Vasilchuk built in a few days Aid for Ukraine, a platform capable of receiving donations in various cryptocurrencies. “Helmet, ammunition, drones, medical crews… There is a lot of equipment that the Ukrainian army needs,” he said. The platform has since been moved under the auspices of the Ukrainian government, and has raised more than $60 million.

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In the cyber realm, mobilization is also massive. Since the sixth day of the war, Ukraine’s Minister of Digital Technology, Michalo Fedorov, has called on volunteer computer scientists to form an “IT Army” to help already existing teams fight Russian attacks. Since then, “about 250,000 people have responded,” notes Diana Sedko, who led the delegation of Ukrainian startups at the Parisian salon VivaTech. Some tasks are offered on Telegram groups, with detailed lessons. A French cybersecurity expert notes that “the most sensitive measures are taken behind the scenes to protect against Russian spies.”

“The Russians don’t want to hear”

These digital battalions have several symbolic moves in their favour, including the temporary blocking of the sites of the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Moscow Stock Exchange. However, their greatest achievement is effectively protecting their country from a hostile expert in electronic warfare. Electrical network, banks, government websites … The list of Ukrainian organizations that have been victims of pro-Russian hackers in recent years is long. The country has learned, the hard way, to face them. For eight years, Ukrainians also systematically moved their administrative files to the cloud in order to protect them from ground attacks. consequences ? Six months after the war, Dominic Beautieh, director of the Ukrainian Innovation Center UNIT, asserts that “the Internet is still working in Ukraine, the state is still able to access its files, and critical infrastructures (electricity and telephone) are down.” City.

“Everyone helps in any way possible, trying to find the greatest impact,” notes Sergey Korolev, CEO of software development company Railsware. At the beginning of the conflict, twenty social media professionals in the marketing department spent a significant amount of time using these platforms to reach the Russian people. The team urgently set up websites and social campaigns to show the reality of the bombings and the death toll. “After two weeks we realized that it was not working out: they don’t want to hear. Part of the Russians support Putin and shout victory over Telegram with every missile launch. Another part is in denial,” we regret.

So he and his team focused on other projects. “It has automated the tedious administrative registration process that drivers who supply the military must undergo in order to speed it up,” says Sergey Korolev. Railsware has also taken part in the DoctorOnlineUA initiative by creating a web platform where Ukrainians can share video with volunteer psychologists and psychiatrists.

Code under the bombs

However, on this broad digital front, the most important measure is the most mundane: keep going. “It is important to protect our economy, which allows our military to equip itself and our country,” insists Pavlo Kartashov, CEO of the Ukraine Startup Fund (USF). However, the daily life of these professionals has been very difficult for the past six months: many of them have had to leave their homes. Many programmers have built their projects out of shelters. This is the case, for example, of the team of Sergei Krivoblotsky, Director of Research and Development at MacPaw, who designed SpyBuster, an application “to detect programs that transmit data to Russia” in order to thwart enemy cyberattacks.

In this technological society, a commandment emerges: not to let this war steal their future. Mosqitter, which makes connected mosquito repellents, has reorganized its production line into an uninhabited area. “We will soon be launching two new products, one of which can be controlled remotely,” says CEO Anastasia Romanova. Ukrainian startups continue to exchange trade fairs around the world.

While Russia is isolating itself digitally, the West has stopped providing it with a number of strategic technologies (semiconductors, etc.), Ukraine, on the other hand, is strengthening its relations with world giants (Microsoft, Amazon …). It displays enormous ambitions. “Technology will be necessary to quickly and efficiently rebuild the country, and our goal is for it to weigh 40% of GDP in the long term, compared to 10% today,” said Oleksandr Bornyakov, Deputy Minister of Digital. The computers of Ukrainian programmers are still raging.

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This article is from our own issue “We are Ukrainians”on newsstands August 24, in partnership with BFMTV.


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