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Cyber attacks disrupt Kyrgyzstan's networks
Published: 2009-01-30

Estonia, Georgia, and now ... Kyrgyzstan?

The central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan became the latest country to come under cyber attack from computers based in Russia, security researchers said this week. The denial-of-service attacks, which began on January 18, disrupted the networks of the two largest Internet Service providers in the country, and could be related to tensions between the current administration and either the Russian government or an opposition party critical of the nation's policies, according to security firm SecureWorks and a group of open-source intelligence researchers.

Measuring the impact of the attack has been difficult as security firms do not appear to have sensors within Kyrgyzstan's networks, said Don Jackson, director of threat intelligence for SecureWorks.

"We are not getting any good reliable reports of bandwidth utilization, because no one has sensors on the affected network," Jackson said. "We do know that it was big enough to take down the two major ISPs, although the ISPs themselves were not actually the targets."

The cyber attacks are the third time in the past two years that political tensions in former Soviet states have spilled over into cyberspace. In April 2007, protests in Estonia, which was occupied by the Soviet Union for nearly four decades, resulted in attacks by ethnic Russians and their sympathizers on Estonian government networks. A year later, cyber attacks on networks in the nation of Georgia accompanied the military conflict between that country's government and Russia.

Following the cyber attacks on Estonia, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) committed to creating a center to focus on coordinating cyber defense and establishing policy for aiding allies during cross-jurisdictional attacks.

Security researchers theorized that the latest attacks may be an effort by the current government to silence the critics from a nascent opposition party or could be an attack by Russian sympathizers over a dispute with Kyrgyzstan regarding U.S. access to an airfield in the nation.

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Posted by: Robert Lemos
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