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In what may be the world’s first nation-against-nation “cyber attack,” key government offices in Estonia have been temporarily disabled by an Internet assault—which Estonian representatives initially blamed on Russia—causing damages estimated in the tens of millions of Euros.
The first wave of continuing assaults came precisely as the Estonians relocated a war monument commemorating Soviet soldiers which is considered sacred by some Russians. Another wave struck May 3, coinciding with Russian protests for removing the war memorial and another struck May 8 and 9—the same days Europe memorializes victory over Nazi Germany.
The assaults came in the form of a “Distributed Denial of Service” (DDoS) attack: By infecting large quantities of computers with small, hardly noticeable programs, attackers can coordinate whole networks of machines, commanding them to make continuous repeated requests on one server. Utilizing the combined resources of hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of machines, the server is quickly overwhelmed—and effectively removed from the Internet.
Because of the anonymous nature of the Internet, as well as the fact that compromised machines can be anywhere in the world, it is extremely difficult—if not impossible—to pinpoint the origin of the attacks. Estonia, supported only by circumstantial evidence, had to back down from directly accusing the Russian government.
Estonia has called upon assistance from NATO as the tiny nation braces for more assaults.
Whether orchestrated by a foreign government or by rogue terrorists, the cyber attack raises serious concerns, as future network assaults could put military servers, flight control servers and financial servers controlling international stock markets at risk.
The United States has been concerned about such threats for some time. Greg Garcia, the Department for Homeland Security’s assistant secretary for cybersecurity and telecommunications, described the potential threat to American servers in a speech at the RSA Conference in San Francisco: “Make no mistake—our networks and systems are vulnerable and they are exposed. Our adversaries are sophisticated, nimble and organized, and they will stop at nothing to achieve their motives, which include economic gain...espionage, revenge and publicity.”
Our brochure The Red Horse – “You Shall Hear of Wars…” addresses how the West has been naive in believing that the Russian government would never engage in such things:
“Most Westerners think of Russia as an economically ailing country that is desperately trying to establish democracy—with the help of America and the West.”
“The billions of dollars that the U.S. sent to Russia, for economic assistance and for use in the dismantling and destruction of their nuclear arsenal weapons (in the 1990s), were not used for this purpose. Most of those funds were, in fact, invested in the improvement of their nuclear arsenal, along with strategic delivery systems...Nor did the Russians dismantle their research labs relating to biological and chemical warfare.”
As governments and vengeance-driven organizations invent new ways to unleash terror, mankind can expect to witness unprecedented destruction in the near future.