In what is perhaps the largest coordinated example of cyberwarfare in history, many Georgian web sites were blocked while the country was being simultaneously invaded by Russia’s air and ground forces last weekend. “We are witnessing in this crisis the birth of true, operational cyber warfare,” said Eli Jellenc, manager of All-Source Intelligence at iDefense. Russian hackers took over the site of the Georgian parliament, replacing it with images of Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili next to similar images of Adolf Hitler. Saakahvili’s own site was shut down – it had to be moved to servers in Atlanta, Georgia

(US).

Also shut down were the sites of Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defense, and the central government's. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs moved its site to Google’s Blogger service. Georgian news site Civil.ge, “under perpetual attack,” has also had to turn to Blogger.

The Web site of the National Bank of Georgia was defaced with a series of pictures including Saakahvili in a montage of 20th century dictators.

Georgia blamed Russia for the attack, in dispatches released on their Blogger site as well as that of Poland’s president, Lech Kaczyński

It is rumored that Russia’s Russian Business Network, a large cybercriminal organizations thought to have links with the country’s government, is responsible for the attacks – but internet attacks can remain anonymous or be retargeted to appear they’re coming from somewhere they’re not. And, whether used for propaganda or to destabilize an economy, they’re economical.

“It costs about 4 cents per machine.  You could fund an entire cyberwarfare campaign for the cost of replacing a tank tread, so you would be foolish not to,” said Bill Woodcock research director of Packet Clearing House, an internet traffic tracker.

Russia has also been blamed the massive 2007 attack of Estonian government, banking, news, and email sites. The “cyber riot” broke out almost simultaneously with a Russian riot in the Estonian city of Tallinn.

By Mark Alvarez