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False flag

False flag definition

A false flag is a cyberattack tactic where attackers try to pin the blame on someone else. Attributing cyberattacks to a specific person or group is often very difficult. Criminals use sophisticated methods to convince investigators that an attack was done by someone else. False flag tactics work online the same way they work in the physical world. The purpose of such an operation is to either hide your tracks and hope the misattribution will protect you from being caught or to convince authorities that someone else carried out the malicious action and thus start a conflict.

False flag tactic example

In January 2022, someone attacked more than 70 of Ukraine's government websites. The attack was made to look as if a fake pro-Ukrainian group did it, but researchers were able to link it to Russian cybercriminals.