The Blog

Russia vs. Ukraine: The Cyber War

The Russian vs. Ukraine battle has taken to the internet. Battles are no longer being fought solely on the ground anymore, they are being fought on the internet and in boardrooms.

Russia has used similar cyber war tactics in past conflicts as well. During the Russian-Georgian conflict in 2008, Georgia was hit with web defacements, massive DDoS (Distributed-Denial-of-Service) attacks and limited Internet access. The message “win+love+in+Rusia.” was spread throughout the servers hosting important Georgian websites including the government and transportation sites.

What is a DDos attack? DDoS attacks are when people attempt to make a machine or network resource unavailable to its intended users by interrupting or suspending services of a host connected to the internet. One of the tactics is flooding a website with so much traffic that it cannot respond to legitimate requests. The majority of these attacks have been done by people and groups not directly associated with either government.

These attacks aren’t all on the digital side either. The Russians are also using old school tactics to attack Ukraine by switching off phone service. This is a big threat because Russians installed Ukraine’s telecommunications infrastructure during the Soviet Era. One pro-Russian group who goes by CyberBerkut has taken credit for blocking over 700 Ukrainian government phones. “I confirm that an IP-telephonic attack is under way on mobile phones of members of Ukrainian parliament for the second day in row,” Valentyn Nalivaichenko, the head of Ukraine’s SBU security service, said in a news briefing this past week.

Hacking is very popular in that part of the world. Hackers on both sides are launching attacks on various websites and agencies. The hacker that broke into Target’s database and stole 40 million credit card numbers is allegedly from Ukraine. Russian universities offer top-notch computer security degrees as well. Russia Today’s website was also the victim of hackers, who broke into the site and effectively changed the word “Russia” to “nazi” in headlines and articles. One headline read “Putin: Nazi citizens, troops threatened in Ukraine, need armed forces protection” after the hack.

The group “Anonymous Ukraine” has even gotten into the mix by hacking over 100 mb of emails from the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance for Reform (UDAR) led by former boxer Vitalia Klitschko. One email by Kitschko that was leaked thanked the Lithuanian president for funding Ukraine’s protests. The email hack was part of a campaign called OpIndependence that has a goal to keep Ukraine independent from NATO and the EU.

Have you been following this event and the impact that social media and the internet has had? Let’s chat about it on Twitter or in the comments below.