DoS attacks and International Tension

By joyleung at 12:27 am on January 25, 2008 | 2 Comments

Last May during a protested movement of a World War II soviet statue, Estonian governmental and political sites were flooded in a series of Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. These attacks consisted of hammering the sites servers with requests till they crash or shut down. While investigating, Estonia blamed the attacks on the Russian government, increasing the political tension between the two countries. Today, a twenty year old Estonian was fined for organizing some of the attacks.


Many Estonians of Russian decent were angered last May at the movement of the statues and there many rioted. A DoS attack perhaps was also used as a form of retaliation because of its relative ease. Whereas an attack on government building is easily caught, an attack over the internet can be easier to do and much harder to trace.


It isn’t clear what sort of protection these servers had from such attacks. However, preventing a DoS attack is difficult. While servers can be made to shut down more gracefully when attacked, it is hard to prevent denial of service. Firewalls and filters can help as well but they can keep out legitimate use of a site as well as attacks. The best solution seems to be preparedness. Quick detection and intervention of an attack occurring can allow more evidence to identify the offending party quicker. That coupled with high fines can also probably deter more attacks.


What is most interesting is the political side to these attacks. Cyber attacks can be used as a vector to make political statements as well as exacerbate political situations. The internet is a different and convenient medium for malicious groups wanting to increase political tensions or perhaps even start a war. For something with such impact it is surprising that these attacks are not so well protected against.

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