Problems with online FoI in the Georgia-Russia conflict

By EDRi · August 27, 2008

(Dieser Artikel ist auch in deutscher Sprache verfügbar)

The conflict between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia region has
extended to Internet, both countries having launched cyber-attacks and
blocking each other’s broadcasting sites.

Georgian authorities have blocked access to Russian news broadcasters and
websites, the action being justified by Georgia’s Interior Ministry with the
argument that Russian broadcasts would “scare our population” which the
government could not allow.

Mamia Sanadiradze, founder and CEO of Caucasus Online, the biggest Georgian
ISP, told Reuters: “People from the (Georgian) security agencies asked me to
block Russian sites. There were threats from viruses, we faced
disinformation and so on. (…) I hope that when war is over, we will
unblock these sites.”

On the other hand, Georgian online news media and the Georgian government
websites have been attacked by Russian hackers,
including the President’s site. In order to remain accessible, the foreign
ministry website changed its URL address.

Security researchers claim to have evidence showing a link between Russian
state businesses and the cyber-attacks against Georgia. Denial of service
attacks against Georgian websites started a day before the break out of the
military conflict over South Ossetia.

Don Jackson, a SecureWorks researcher said that logs showed that part of the
attack was run from command and control servers located on the networks of
Rostelecom and Comstar, two Russian state-run companies. “We know that the
Russian government controls those servers theoretically, if they have not
been ‘pwned’ by somebody else,” Jackson told eWeek. The two companies made
changes in routing tables that blocked internet traffic to Georgia. The same
networks were used to launch denial of service attacks and cache poisoning
attacks against Georgian networks, according to SecureWorks.

Reporters Without Borders condemn the violation of online freedom of
information. “The Internet has become a battleground in which information is
the first victim. On the one side, the main Georgian ISPs severed access to
Russian websites. On the other side, Georgian government websites were
attacked by Russian hackers. With newspapers and radio and TV stations
putting out very little independent news, the Internet is a vital tool for
the public, so these attacks must stop at once.”

Russian and Georgian websites fall victim to a war being fought online as
well as in the field (13.08.2008)

Georgia cuts access to Russian websites, TV news (19.08.2008)

Georgia accuses Russia of coordinated cyberattack (11.08.2008)

Bear prints found on Georgian cyber-attacks (14.08.2008)

Russian cybercrooks turn on Georgia (11.08.2008)