August 13, 2008

Cyberattack Preceded Actual Georgia War

Georgia's Internet servers came under attack long before Russia dropped any actual bombs, the first instance of what experts say will become a warfare staple.

Computer security experts say Georgia came under cyberattack several weeks before its actual conflict with Russia, with a barrage of "distributed denial of service" attacks aimed at government Internet servers, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Internet watchers say they detected the attacks as early as July 20. Georgia blames Russia for the attacks, but some experts told the Times that's not clear.

"Could this somehow be indirect Russian action? Yes, but considering Russia is past playing nice and uses real bombs, they could have attacked more strategic targets or eliminated the infrastructure kinetically," Israeli network security expert Gadi Evron said.

Some experts said the cyberattacks were the first that had coincided with a shooting war, but they probably wouldn't be the last. Bill Woodcock, research director of the Packet Clearing House, told the Times cyberattacks are so inexpensive and easy, they almost certainly will become a staple of modern warfare.