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[Full-disclosure] Internet attacks against Georgian web sites

From: Gadi Evron <ge_at_nospam>
Date: Mon Aug 11 2008 - 06:40:16 GMT
To: bugtraq@securityfocus.com


In the last days news and government web sites in Georgia suffered DDoS attacks. While these attacks seem to affect the Georgian Internet, it is still there.

Facts: 1. There are botnet attacks against .ge websites. 2. These attacks affect the .ge Internet infrastructure, but it's reachable. 3. It doesn't seem Internet infrastructure is directly attacked. 4. Every other political tension in the past 10 years, from a comic of the Prophet Muhammad to the war in Iraq, were followed by online supporters attacking targets which seem affiliated with the opposing side, and vise-versa.

Up to the Estonian war, such attacks would be called "hacker enthusiast attacks" or "cyber terrorism" (of the weak sort). Nowadays any attack with a political nature seems to get the "information warfare" tag. When 300 Lithuanian web sites were defaced last month, "cyber war" was the buzzword.

Running security for the Israeli government Internet operation and later the Israeli government CERT such attacks were routine, and just by speaking on them in the local news outlets I started bigger so-called "wars" when enthusiasts responded in the story comments and then attacks the "other side".

Not every fighting is warfare. While Georgia is obviously under a DDoS attacks and it is political in nature, it doesn't so far seem different than any other online after-math by fans. Political tensions are always followed by online attacks by sympathizers.

Could this somehow be indirect Russian action? Yes, but considering Russia is past playing nice and uses real bombs, they could have attacked more strategic targets or eliminated the infrastructure kinetically.

Coulda, shoulda… the nature of what's going on isn't clear, but until we are certain anything state-sponsored is happening on the Internet it is my official opinion this is not warfare, but just some unaffiliated attacks by Russian hackers and/or some rioting by enthusiastic Russian supporters.

It is too early to say for sure what this is and who is behind it.

The RBN blog (following the Russian Business Network) is of a different opinion:
http://rbnexploit.blogspot.com/2008/08/rbn-georgia-cyberwarfare.html and:
http://rbnexploit.blogspot.com/2008/08/rbn-georgia-cyberwarfare-2-sat-16-00.html

Also, Renesys has been following the situation and provides with some data: http://www.renesys.com/blog/2008/08/georgia_clings_to_the_net.shtml

(Thanks to Paul Ferguson for the URLs)

DDoS attacks harm the Internet itself rather than just this or that web site, so soon this may require some of us in the Internet security operations community getting involved in mitigating the attacks, if they don't just drop on their own.

Gadi Evron. -- "You don't need your firewalls! Gadi is Israel's firewall." -- Itzik (Isaac) Cohen, "Computers czar", Senior Deputy to the Accountant General, Israel's Ministry of Finance, at the government's CIO conference, 2005. (after two very funny self-deprication quotes, time to even things up!) My profile and resume: http://www.linkedin.com/in/gadievron

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