Russia's cyberwarfare

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lpetrich
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Russia's cyberwarfare

Post by lpetrich » Sun Dec 10, 2017 1:07 pm

Fake news and botnets: how Russia weaponised the web | Technology | The Guardian

In 2007, the Estonian government decided that a statue of a heroic WWII Soviet soldier was to be removed from a public square.

On 10 PM, 26 April 2007, an ethnic Russian mob rioted in the streets of Estonia's capital Tallinn, killing one person and injuring several others. For ethnic Russians, this was another sign of Estonia's post-Soviet government discriminating against them, while for ethnic Estonians, that statue was a symbol of Soviet rule.

But it was not just Estonian ethnic Russians. Hillar Aarelaid, the head of Estonia's cybercrime police:
“It’s going down,” Aarelaid declared. Alongside the street fighting, reports of digital attacks were beginning to filter in. The websites of the parliament, major universities, and national newspapers were crashing. Priisalu and Aarelaid had suspected something like this could happen one day. A digital attack on Estonia had begun.
Over the next two nights, as the street fighting waned, the cyberattacks stepped up. Distributed Denial of Service attacks (DDoS): large numbers of attackers in botnets trying to connect to targeted sites. Similar flood attacks with e-mail and phone calling.
Some websites, according to the BBC, were “defaced,” redirecting users “to images of Soviet soldiers and quotations from Martin Luther King Jr about resisting evil”.
The nation's largest bank had to stop online operations on 10 May, and other big sites also became inaccessible.
The digital firepower arrayed against Estonia was massive and intense. One thousand data packets per hour were travelling through the country’s networks on the first day. On the second day, it was 2,000 per hour. At its highest point, it was 4m per second.
But on 19 May, the attacks stopped. That was because the Estonian authorities shut down international electronic access, making the nation drop off of the Internet for a while.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for those attacks, but the most likely culprit is clearly Russia. Not only did Russian officials have a motive -- a perceived affront to ethnic Russians -- they have talked about doing cyberwarfare for some time.

Russian cyberattackers have been involved in the US, Britain, France, Germany, Holland, Spain, Sweden, Finland, Ukraine, and Asian Georgia -- and even in Russia itself. Russia's cyberattacks fit a certain pattern:
First, people’s trust in one another is broken down. Then comes fear, followed by hatred, and finally, at some point, shots are fired. The pattern was particularly striking in Crimea. People posted reports on Facebook about gross mistreatment by Ukrainians; dramatic messages circulated on Instagram about streams of refugees fleeing the country; billboards suddenly appeared in Kiev bearing pro-Russian slogans; demonstrations followed. Rising suspicion and mutual mistrust split Ukrainian society. In a matter of months, fighting broke out. Russia used the conflict as a pretext to send in “aid convoys”, presenting itself as a benevolent responder to an emergency.
A Russian Facebook page organized a protest in Texas. A different Russian page launched the counterprotest. | The Texas Tribune
Heart of Texas vs. United Muslims of America.

Heart of Texas supported Texas secession, portrayed the state as a land of guns and barbecues, and it got hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers. It scheduled a rally in Houston at noon of 21 May 2016 to "Stop Islamification of Texas."

United Muslims of America also scheduled a rally at that place and time, "Save Islamic Knowledge".
On that day, protesters organized by the two groups showed up on Travis Street in downtown Houston, a scene that appeared on its face to be a protest and a counterprotest. Interactions between the two groups eventually escalated into confrontation and verbal attacks.

Burr, the committee's chairman, unveiled the ads at a hearing Wednesday morning and said Russians managed to pit Texans against each other for the bargain price of $200.
Back to The Guardian:
Russia may be the world’s most open cyberwarfare aggressor –but it’s far from the only one. Iran, Israel, North Korea and the United States, and perhaps other countries, are all active. Permanent globalized digital warfare might become the new cost of living in a connected world.

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