August 12, 2008
IDG News Service
In an intriguing cyberalliance, two Estonian computer experts are scheduled to arrive in Georgia to keep the country’s networks running amid an intense military confrontation with Russia. And Poland has lent space on its president’s Web page for Georgia to post updates on its ongoing conflict with Russia, which launched a military campaign on Friday to eject Georgian troops from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two renegade areas with strong ties to Russia.
The cooperation between the former Iron Curtain allies is aimed at blunting pro-Russian computer hackers, who have been blamed over the last few years for cyberattacks against Estonia, Lithuania and Georgia in incidents linked to political friction between those nations and Russia.
Estonia is also now hosting Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site, which has been under sustained attack over the last few days.
“Let’s just say we moved it,” Pärgmäe said. “I know that there are interested parties who read media so it’s not good to say exactly where the hosting is.”
The Web site for Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili, remained up on Tuesday morning. That site was knocked offline around mid-July after a DDOS attack from a botnet, network experts said.
The botnet was based on the “MachBot” code, which communicates to other compromised PCs over HTTP, the same protocol used for transmitting Web pages. MachBot code has been known to be used by Russian bot herders, according to the Shadowserver Foundation, which tracks malicious Internet activity.
Shadowserver said Monday that hackers had at one point defaced the Web site for Georgia’s parliament. “The attackers have inserted a large image made up of several smaller side-by-side images of pictures of both the Georgian president and Adolf Hitler,” the group wrote.
Georgia is now also hosting some sites in the U.S., a logical move to better defend the sites against attacks, Pärgmäe said. Shadowserver wrote that the presidential site appeared to have been moved to an IP address belonging to Tulip Systems Inc., an ISP in Atlanta.
The country is also looking to other ways to keep information flowing. A Georgian news site was also up, but the site warned it was under “permanent DDOS attack.” That Web site has set up a group in Google’s Groups service, where subscribers can get the news stories it regularly posts.
Russia and Georgia are at war, and the war includes Russia’s hacking and/or taking down Georgia’s official government websites. In one of the most unusual and creative uses of blogger, the Google blogging platform that hosts this blog and perhaps one million more, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of Georgia is using blogspot as its method of communicating with the world. You can click here to see the government blog, which is available at http://georgiamfa.blogspot.com/. There is a complete list of the military actions taken by Russia. Some of the earlier information also appears on the English version of the website of the President of Poland at the request of the President of Georgia.While the official websites are in Russian, the blog is in English. Although very troubling, the information is fascinating, with complete details of the Russian attacks. Georgia’s military resources are very limited compared to those of Russia, and there is hope that the International community can help end this conflict.