Infowar: Cyber Warfare Breaks Out in Europe

The country of Estonia is known as the most net savvy country of the old world and pioneered the melding of technology and government in Europe. This forward thinking came at a price when Estonia became the first state in the world to be the target of cyber warfare by another state according to officials. The aggressors are suspected to be Russian hackers employed by Putin to launch wave after wave of D.O.S. attacks against the tiny country which is known to have become dependent on web service in the running of important institutions including government ministries, banking and finance houses and several of the nation’s largest news organizations. From The Guardian:

Estonia, a country of 1.4 million people, including a large ethnic Russian minority, is one of the most wired societies in Europe and a pioneer in the development of “e-government”. Being highly dependent on computers, it is also highly vulnerable to cyber-attack.

The main targets have been the websites of:

· the Estonian presidency and its parliament

· almost all of the country’s government ministries

· political parties

· three of the country’s six big news organizations

· two of the biggest banks; and firms specializing in communications

It is not clear how great the damage has been.

With their reputation for electronic prowess, the Estonians have been quick to marshal their defenses, mainly by closing down the sites under attack to foreign Internet addresses, in order to try to keep them accessible to domestic users.

The cyber-attacks were clearly prompted by the Estonians’ relocation of the Soviet second world war memorial on April 27.

Ethnic Russians staged protests against the removal, during which 1,300 people were arrested, 100 people were injured, and one person was killed.

The crisis unleashed a wave of so-called DDS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attacks, where websites are suddenly swamped by tens of thousands of visits, jamming and disabling them by overcrowding the bandwidths for the servers running the sites. The attacks have been pouring in from all over the world, but Estonian officials and computer security experts say that, particularly in the early phase, some attackers were identified by their Internet addresses – many of which were Russian, and some of which were from Russian state institutions.

“The cyber-attacks are from Russia. There is no question. It’s political,” said Merit Kopli, editor of Postimees, one of the two main newspapers in Estonia, whose website has been targeted and has been inaccessible to international visitors for a week. It was still unavailable last night.

The attacks demonstrate the vulnerability of modern society to Internet attacks and the full scope of the damage caused is still being assessed. Hot Air discusses the implication of Russian cyber warfare in the context of their other provocative actions here.

At the same time, Gateway Pundit is following the story of Islamist cyber attacks on Catholic websites in Italy.

Is the west ready for this new phase in the clash of civilizations?