The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Cyber war – Estonia shut down, including focus on Banks

Estonia is a highly evolved internet marketplace including Government services, tax filing and various forms of ecommerce.

A political situation involving the taking down of a Soviet statue, has resulted in mammoth cyber attacks, which sound like denial of service attacks against the Estonian internet infrastructure. The cause is allegedly inside Russia, who has denied involvement, but the results involved computers from around the world.

The Russian government has denied any involvement in the attacks, which came close to shutting down the country’s digital infrastructure, clogging the Web sites of the president, the prime minister, Parliament and other government agencies, staggering Estonia’s biggest bank and overwhelming the sites of several daily newspapers.

Source: NY Times

This situation has gathered interest from others as a potential window into future warfare and terrorism in this space.

Computer security experts from NATO, the European Union, the United States and Israel have since converged on Tallinn to offer help and to learn what they can about cyberwar in the digital age.

“This may well turn out to be a watershed in terms of widespread awareness of the vulnerability of modern society,” said Linton Wells II, the principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration at the Pentagon. “It has gotten the attention of a lot of people.”

Some information is avaialble on the nature of the attacks.

The bulk of the cyberassaults used a technique known as a distributed denial-of-service attack. By bombarding the country’s Web sites with data, attackers can clog not only the country’s servers, but also its routers and switches, the specialized devices that direct traffic on the network.

To magnify the assault, the hackers infiltrated computers around the world with software known as bots, and banded them together in networks to perform these incursions. The computers become unwitting foot soldiers, or “zombies,” in a cyberattack.

The attackers used a giant network of bots — perhaps as many as one million computers in places as far away as the United States and Vietnam — to amplify the impact of their assault. In a sign of their financial resources, there is evidence that they rented time on other so-called botnets.

The Banks were visible in the defence activities.

The attacks on Estonia’s systems are not over, but they have dropped in volume and intensity, and are aimed mainly at banks.

Mr. Aarelaid huddled with security chiefs at the banks, urging them to keep their services running. He was also under orders to protect an important government briefing site. Other sites, like that of the Estonian president, were sacrificed as low priorities.

Written by Colin Henderson

May 29, 2007 at 07:06

Posted in Security

One Response

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  1. I saw the former chief strategist of netscape at the SECTOR conference and he presented on the cyber war threat. I had worked with Kevin Coleman before, but his presentation really impacted me. His inventory of cyber weapons included DEWs, TEDs, and self morphing/self encrypting malicious code. We are in serious trouble. Hackers of the world should unite and hit any country that launches a cyber attack!

    Spy Guy

    December 28, 2007 at 22:57


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