Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Cyber Wars

One of the oddest parts of the Russia/Georgia conflict, from the New York Times:

Cyberspace Barrage Preceded Russian Invasion of Georgia
By JOHN MARKOFF, August 12, 2008

Weeks before physical bombs started falling on Georgia, a security researcher in suburban Massachusetts was watching an attack against the country in cyberspace.

A screen grab of the Georgian Parliament Web site, parliament.ge, which had been defaced by the "South Ossetia Hack Crew." The site's content had been replaced with images comparing Georgian President, Mikheil Saakashvili, to Adolf Hitler.

Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks in Lexington noticed a stream of data directed at Georgian government sites containing the message: win+love+in+Rusia.

Other Internet experts in the United States said the attacks against Georgia’s Internet infrastructure began as early as July 20, with coordinated barrages of millions of requests — known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks — that overloaded certain Georgian servers.


According to Internet technical experts, it was the first time a cyberattack had coincided with a shooting war. But it will likely not be the last...

While I find it difficult to take a side on Georgia's domestic conflict with the regions fighting for autonomy from the Georgian government due to my unfamiliarity with the causes and rationale of either side in the recent flare ups.

One thing I'm far more certain of is that Russia flexing its military muscles to control its neighbors and exert centuries old habit of doing so (regardless of whether it was under the czarist empires, the soviet communist domination, or in the much less predictable post-cold war era)... is worrying to every other industrialized nation that favors stability over chaos.

And with the US in little position to keep Russian military actions in check, and NATO being heavily dependent on US military might to do the same, there is little comfort for any of Russia's neighbors tonight. The UN Security Council, as usual, is worthless in such matters since the Russians have veto power over any resolution that even criticizes them, let alone demands any action.

The leaders of the world can meet all they want about this problem, but for now, it appears that their meetings will appear and replicate a self-help group for the impotent. Russia just sent a message to the world, it has the means and the will to get its way with its neighbors. The world just sent a message back: a lack of both means and will to do anything about it.

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