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Russia accused of unleashing Cyberwar to disable Estonia

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A three-week wave of massive cyber-attacks on the small Baltic country of Estonia, the first known incidence of such an assault on a state, is causing alarm across the western alliance, with Nato urgently examining the offensive and its implications.

While Russia and Estonia are embroiled in their worst dispute since the collapse of the Soviet Union, a row that erupted at the end of last month over the Estonians' removal of the Bronze Soldier Soviet war memorial in central Tallinn, the country has been subjected to a barrage of cyber warfare, disabling the websites of government ministries, political parties, newspapers, banks, and companies.

Nato has dispatched some of its top cyber-terrorism experts to Tallinn to investigate and to help the Estonians beef up their electronic defences.

"This is an operational security issue, something we're taking very seriously," said an official at Nato headquarters in Brussels. "It goes to the heart of the alliance's modus operandi."

Alarm over the unprecedented scale of cyber-warfare is to be raised tomorrow at a summit between Russian and European leaders outside Samara on the Volga.

While planning to raise the issue with the Russian authorities, EU and Nato officials have been careful not to accuse the Russians directly.

If it were established that Russia is behind the attacks, it would be the first known case of one state targeting another by cyber-warfare.

Relations between the Kremlin and the west are at their worst for years, with Russia engaged in bitter disputes not only with Estonia, but with Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Georgia - all former parts of the Soviet Union or ex-members of the Warsaw Pact. The electronic offensive is making matters much worse.

"Frankly it is clear that what happened in Estonia in the cyber-attacks is not acceptable and a very serious disturbance," said a senior EU official.

Estonia's president, foreign minister, and defence minister have all raised the emergency with their counterparts in Europe and with Nato.

"At present, Nato does not define cyber-attacks as a clear military action. This means that the provisions of Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty, or, in other words collective self-defence, will not automatically be extended to the attacked country," said the Estonian defence minister, Jaak Aaviksoo.

"Not a single Nato defence minister would define a cyber-attack as a clear military action at present. However, this matter needs to be resolved in the near future."

Estonia, a country of 1.4 million people, including a large ethnic Russian minority, is one of the most wired societies in Europe and a pioneer in the development of "e-government". Being highly dependent on computers, it is also highly vulnerable to cyber-attack.

The main targets have been the websites of:

· the Estonian presidency and its parliament

· almost all of the country's government ministries

· political parties

· three of the country's six big news organisations

· two of the biggest banks; and firms specializing in communications

It is not clear how great the damage has been.

With their reputation for electronic prowess, the Estonians have been quick to marshal their defences, mainly by closing down the sites under attack to foreign internet addresses, in order to try to keep them accessible to domestic users.

The cyber-attacks were clearly prompted by the Estonians' relocation of the Soviet second world war memorial on April 27.

Ethnic Russians staged protests against the removal, during which 1,300 people were arrested, 100 people were injured, and one person was killed.

The crisis unleashed a wave of so-called DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attacks, where websites are suddenly swamped by tens of thousands of visits, jamming and disabling them by overcrowding the bandwidths for the servers running the sites. The attacks have been pouring in from all over the world, but Estonian officials and computer security experts say that, particularly in the early phase, some attackers were identified by their internet addresses - many of which were Russian, and some of which were from Russian state institutions.

"The cyber-attacks are from Russia. There is no question. It's political," said Merit Kopli, editor of Postimees, one of the two main newspapers in Estonia, whose website has been targeted and has been inaccessible to international visitors for a week. It was still unavailable last night.

"If you are implying [the attacks] came from Russia or the Russian government, it's a serious allegation that has to be substantiated. Cyber-space is everywhere," Russia's ambassador in Brussels, Vladimir Chizhov, said in reply to a question from the Guardian. He added: "I don't support such behaviour, but one has to look at where they [the attacks] came from and why."

Without naming Russia, the Nato official said: "I won't point fingers. But these were not things done by a few individuals.

"This clearly bore the hallmarks of something concerted. The Estonians are not alone with this problem. It really is a serious issue for the alliance as a whole."

Mr Chizhov went on to accuse the EU of hypocrisy in its support for Estonia, an EU and Nato member. "There is a smell of double standards."

He also accused Poland of holding the EU hostage in its dealings with Russia, and further accused Estonia and other east European countries previously in Russia's orbit of being in thrall to "phantom pains of the past, historic grievances against the Soviet union and the Russian empire of the 19th century." In Tallinn, Ms Kopli said: "This is the first time this has happened, and it is very important that we've had this type of attack. We've been able to learn from it."

"We have been lucky to survive this," said Mikko Maddis, Estonia's defence ministry spokesman. "People started to fight a cyber-war against it right away. Ways were found to eliminate the attacker."

The attacks have come in three waves: from April 27, when the Bronze Soldier riots erupted, peaking around May 3; then on May 8 and 9 - a couple of the most celebrated dates in the Russian calendar, when the country marks Victory Day over Nazi Germany, and when President Vladimir Putin delivered another hostile speech attacking Estonia and indirectly likening the Bush administration to the Hitler regime; and again this week.

Estonian officials say that one of the masterminds of the cyber-campaign, identified from his online name, is connected to the Russian security service. A 19-year-old was arrested in Tallinn at the weekend for his alleged involvement.

Expert opinion is divided on whether the identity of the cyber-warriors can be ascertained properly.

Experts from Nato member states and from the alliance's NCSA unit - "Nato's first line of defence against cyber-terrorism", set up five years ago - were meeting in Seattle in the US when the crisis erupted. A couple of them were rushed to Tallinn.

Another Nato official familiar with the experts' work said it was easy for them, with other organisations and internet providers, to track, trace, and identify the attackers.

But Mikko Hyppoenen, a Finnish expert, told the Helsingin Sanomat newspaper that it would be difficult to prove the Russian state's responsibility, and that the Kremlin could inflict much more serious cyber-damage if it chose to.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/russia/article/0,,2081438,00.html

http://it.slashdot.org/it/07/05/17/1248215.shtml

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woa... I guess they're training an army of cyberattackers to do that. I wonder what it looks like from the inside. Instead of waking up the cybersoldiers early in the morning, they make them stay up at night as long as they can, trying to hack Estonia websites...

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The war of the future? Mass disruptions of financial, communication and governmental institutions?

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The war of the future? Mass disruptions of financial, communication and governmental institutions?

It worked for the robots in the Animatrix episode Second Renaissance Part 2! :fireskull:

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So, wait a second.

Because the DDoS attacks are originating from Russian IP addresses it is safe to assume that the Russian government itself is responsible for the attacks?

So if I'm getting DDoSed by American IPs including IPs in IP ranges owned by the government does that mean that the U.S. government itself is DDoSing me as opposed to zombie machines?

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So, wait a second.

Because the DDoS attacks are originating from Russian IP addresses it is safe to assume that the Russian government itself is responsible for the attacks?

So if I'm getting DDoSed by American IPs including IPs in IP ranges owned by the government does that mean that the U.S. government itself is DDoSing me as opposed to zombie machines?

New United States CyberCivil War! Now with the Inter-Income Tax that will never be removed even after the war is over! :ranaway:

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This action is absolutely terrible, but it's heralding a new age in. We have lived in this world for a long time now, a glass bubble with the rest of the civilization looking in. Now, people of power are taking that brave step forward into a world where bullets are packets sent from halfway around the world.

The same machines that we depended on to learn, discover, and help push this world along the right path, will now be weapons of mass destruction. Just like Einstein and the atomic bomb.

If in fact Russia is launching these attacks, or even if in fact it's a large corporation or an opposing government trying to implicate Russia for these attacks, this marks a new period in history. A period where misunderstood children and adults, who commune together in harmony (and sometimes flaming) on electric pulses sent around the world and shot into space, all to share information. All to learn about new things and to create. What we do here is for the good of humanity. What they will do here will destroy humanity.

One day, Cyberpunk will be upon us. Orwell will nod knowingly and we will be sought after for our technical knowledge and field experience, as it were. And our peaceful world of knowledge and learning will collapse from it's glorious golden age into a dark time of war.

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I think this is just some patriotic Russians who have some skills, I mean when Indian or Pakistani hackers fuck up each country site's people do not say it was the government :) .

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I seriously doubt that the government would do something like that. I know that almost all Russians are very patriotic when it comes to issues of World War II. Perhaps even more so than the current Russian government. My best guess is that (like s25 just said) it was the people with skills, not the government, electronically protesting the removal of the honored monument.

It was the oppression by the totalitarian Soviet government that the monument symbolized to the Estonians. However, it were the countless sacrifices of the brave Soviet soldiers; Russian, Estonian, and otherwise; that made the monument so important to the people. For thousands of years, the few politically-powerful leaders near the top of the power structure waged their war for their agendas, while the masses of their politically-powerless subjects were forced to kill for them and die for them; no doubt these leaders will want to keep it that way. This year, the tragic pattern appears to have been broken - it was the civilians, the ordinary people, who protested. Their actions may have caused an "unclear amount of damage," but not a drop of blood was spilled. The Estonian government actually did more damage maintaining order (100 injured, 1 killed) than did the DDoS attacks, (possibly the most peaceful "war" in history; all the damage is digital, not a drop of blood spilled) yet the protesters are being accused of "cyber-attacks" and a "cyber-war." These people spoke out for their collective beliefs in a (relatively) peaceful way, yet these people have been labeled the "cyber-terrorists."

Swerve is right, this may very well be the future.

Edited by Samodelkin
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This action is absolutely terrible, but it's heralding a new age in. We have lived in this world for a long time now, a glass bubble with the rest of the civilization looking in. Now, people of power are taking that brave step forward into a world where bullets are packets sent from halfway around the world.

The same machines that we depended on to learn, discover, and help push this world along the right path, will now be weapons of mass destruction. Just like Einstein and the atomic bomb.

If in fact Russia is launching these attacks, or even if in fact it's a large corporation or an opposing government trying to implicate Russia for these attacks, this marks a new period in history. A period where misunderstood children and adults, who commune together in harmony (and sometimes flaming) on electric pulses sent around the world and shot into space, all to share information. All to learn about new things and to create. What we do here is for the good of humanity. What they will do here will destroy humanity.

One day, Cyberpunk will be upon us. Orwell will nod knowingly and we will be sought after for our technical knowledge and field experience, as it were. And our peaceful world of knowledge and learning will collapse from it's glorious golden age into a dark time of war.

Are you kidding me? It's just a DDoS attack!

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I think this is just some patriotic Russians who have some skills, I mean when Indian or Pakistani hackers fuck up each country site's people do not say it was the government :) .

I would agree. It certainly wouldn't seem all that unfeasible for a small group to do this, and that's certainly a possibility that should first be explored before going after the big guys.

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The Russian people feel the rest of the world owes them a debt of gratitude for WW2. There's a common saying that runs along the lines of, 'if it wasn't for Russia, we'd all be speaking German' (and vice versa).

13995306_dd0708638b_m.jpg

My point is - digging up Russian soldiers that died during the War might not be such a great idea. Estonia should've seen this coming from a mile away.

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The Russian people feel the rest of the world owes them a debt of gratitude for WW2. There's a common saying that runs along the lines of, 'if it wasn't for Russia, we'd all be speaking German' (and vice versa).

13995306_dd0708638b_m.jpg

My point is - digging up Russian soldiers that died during the War might not be such a great idea. Estonia should've seen this coming from a mile away.

lol, the us was germany's biggest ally, if it werent for russia we'd all be speaking english.

oh wait...

ps: feel free to bash on my statement, its still true :P

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lol, the us was germany's biggest ally, if it werent for russia we'd all be speaking english.

oh wait...

ps: feel free to bash on my statement, its still true :P

Не безпокойтесь, всё пока нормально. Although there are still people who don't speak English, at least correctly. :roll:

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lol, the us was germany's biggest ally, if it werent for russia we'd all be speaking english.

oh wait...

ps: feel free to bash on my statement, its still true :P

Er, what?

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hehe.....

I live in estonia

OT FTW!!

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