By Thais Portilho-Shrimpton
17 August 2008
The six-day war between Russia and Georgia may have seemed a scruffy,
bloody, almost 19th-century nationalist conflict, but it saw the
deployment of what will be a major weapon in the wars of the future: the
internet. South Ossetia was, say experts in both technology and military
studies, the world's first cyberwar.
Websites on both sides, especially the Georgian one, were knocked out by
co-ordinated online attacks. Among them were the Ministry of Defence and
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs websites, the online English language
dailies 'The Messenger', and 'Civil', and the personal website of the
Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili.
Skirmishes have been conducted on websites before, notably as part of
disputes that Russia had with Estonia in 2007 and Lithuania in July, but
South Ossetia marked the first time they have been launched at the same
time as ground troops and air strikes. They were even part of the
softening-up process, with official Georgian sites coming under attack
as far back as 21 July.
Dr David Betz, senior lecturer at the Department of War Studies of
King's College, London, said: "We're still in the wooden biplane era of
cyber-war. It will get more sophisticated, probably quite quickly. The
US has already created units for cyber-defence, so too has China, no
doubt Russia, and probably many others."
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