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28 January 2009

Russian 'Cyber Militia' Takes Kyrgyzstan Offline?

from Danger Room by Nathan Hodge

About 10 days ago, Kyrgyzstan's two main Internet service providers -- ns.kg and domain.kg -- came under a massive online assault. The Wall Street Journal now reports that the cyber-attack may have been orchestrated by a Russia-based "cyber militia," although it provides few additional details about who, exactly, was responsible.

The story (subscription only), quotes cyber-security expert Don Jackson of Internet security firm SecureWorks as saying the denial-of-service attacks managed to shut down more than 80 percent of Kyrgyzstan's bandwidth. While both sites now seem to be up and running, several commentators have speculated that the attack is meant to thwart Kyrgyzstan's embattled political opposition -- which depends on the Internet to organize -- or to pressure Kyrgyzstan's government, which hosts a U.S. airbase outside of the capital, Bishkek.

Could this be a pattern? As we noted here earlier, Russian hackers staged denial-of-service attacks on Georgian government websites during last year's war between Russia and Georgia. Similar attacks on Estonia in 2007 were rather breathlessly described as the world's first proper "cyberwar."

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