Cyber-Terror Attacks Cripple Websites in Estonia; Has Russia Launched the First Cyber War?

follow Highly coordinated, massive cyber attacks have crippled Internet communication in Estonia, posing a threat to that country’s national security.

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click here Estonia’s Defense Minister Jaak Aaviksoo told the AP that about one million computers worldwide were used over more than two weeks in mid-May to attack government and corporate Web sites in the Baltic country, which is engaged in a bitter dispute with Russia exacerbated by Estonia’s removal of a Soviet-era war memorial from downtown Tallinn in April.

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NATO is investigating whether the Russian government is to blame.

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If so, it would be the first documented case of one sovereign nation engaging in cyber warfare against another nation, says the UK’s The Guardian.

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“This is an operational security issue, something we’re taking very seriously,” said an official at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

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But it is not at all clear that the Russian government was directly responsible.

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According to the BBC: Anton Nossik, one of the pioneers of the Russian Internet, sees no reason to believe in Russian state involvement in the hacking, beyond the fanning of anti-Estonian sentiment. “Unlike a nuclear or conventional military attack, you do not need a government for such attacks.”

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The Moscow Times dismisses Estonian claims of Russian involvement in the attacks:

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Estonia has created a stir with its accusations that Kremlin-based hackers targeted government web sites. But it is not alone in grappling with cyber attacks.

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Hackers in recent months have targeted outspoken pro-Kremlin youth groups, opposition forces, ultranationalist organizations and media outlets, crashing their web sites with what is known as Distributed Denial of Service, or DDoS, attacks – the same type of attack that Estonia says was launched against its sites.

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EU and NATO authorities have stopped short of accusing Russia of coordinating the cyber attacks.

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But the cyber attacks have further aggravated tense relations. Reports The Guardian:

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Relations between the Kremlin and the west are at their worst for years, with Russia engaged in bitter disputes not only with Estonia, but with Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, and Georgia – all former parts of the Soviet Union or ex-members of the Warsaw Pact. The electronic offensive is making matters much worse.

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"Frankly it is clear that what happened in Estonia in the cyber-attacks is not acceptable and a very serious disturbance," said a senior EU official.

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- Jon Harmon

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