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Georgia Cyber Attacks From Russian Government? Not So Fast

Georgia Cyber Attacks From Russian Government? Not So Fast
Georgia Cyber Attacks From Russian Government? Not So Fast 

By Gadi Evron
August 13, 2008 

In recent days, news and government websites in Georgia have suffered 
DDoS attacks. While these attacks seem to indirectly affect the backbone 
of the Georgian Internet, it is still there.

News reports popped up everywhere, along with supposedly informed 
technical analysis, claiming anything from the Georgian Internet routes 
being hijacked to Russia launching a cyber offensive, but with little 

Let's try to understand what is really happening over there, and what it 


    * 1.) There are botnet attacks against Georgian websites.
    * 2.) These attacks affect the Georgian Internet infrastructure 
          indirectly, due to the mass of traffic sent, but the Internet 
          is still very much there.
    * 3.) Some Georgian websites have been defaced with political 
    * 4.) Unrelated, a media war is being fought.

Up to the Estonian war, such attacks would be called "hacker enthusiast 
attacks" or "cyber terrorism" (of the weak sort). Nowadays any attack of 
a political nature seems to get the "information warfare" tag. When 300 
Lithuanian websites were defaced last month, "cyber war" was the 
buzzword, even though it ended up being an internal Lithuanian matter.

Running security for the Israeli government Internet operation and later 
founding the Israeli government CERT, I found that such attacks were 
routine. Seeing the panicked reaction this type of attack has generated 
seems quaint from my perspective.

Not all fighting is warfare. While Georgia is obviously under DDoS 
attacks that are political in nature, it doesn't so far seem different 
from any other online aftermath by fans. Political tensions are always 
followed with online attacks by sympathizers.

DDoS attacks harm the Internet itself rather than just this or that 
website, which often requires some of us in the vetted Internet security 
operations community to get involved in mitigating the attacks, if they 
don't just drop on their own. Our purpose is not to get involved in any 
local situation, but rather to preserve our common global critical 
infrastructure - the Internet.

Could this somehow be indirectly related to Russian military action? 
Yes, but there is no evidence to indicate it is the case as of yet. If 
anything, the opposite seems likely at this point in time.


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